Having a herniated disc in your back can be excruciatingly painful, and is likely to make it hard for you to live a normal life. Harvinder S. Bedi, MD, of Camelback Spine Care in Sun City, Arizona, and Phoenix, Arizona is a board-certified spine surgeon who has experience with helping patients affected by herniated discs. If you need help to relieve the pain of back injuries, call Camelback Spine Care today to schedule a consultation, or book an appointment online.
A herniated disc occurs when one of the spinal discs between your vertebrae bulges out and presses on a nerve in the spinal canal.
Spinal discs are thick, rubbery sections of cartilage that protect your vertebrae from injury and enable you to move your back freely. Inside is a softer, jelly-like tissue, and it’s this that protrudes through the outer layer and presses on the nerves when you have a herniated disc.
The nerves in your spinal canal are highly sensitive, so even a small herniation can cause back pain, and possibly weakness or numbness in your legs.
Herniated discs typically develop for one of two reasons:
Taking a weight suddenly or awkwardly may cause a disc to rupture, a condition that you may know as a slipped disc. This type of acute injury causes immediate, severe pain and reduced range of movement.
Over the years, your discs lose some of the water content that keeps them spongy and thick, so they start to flatten and become less flexible. They can also shrink, making the gaps between vertebrae narrower.
Disc wear is made worse by using poor lifting techniques or making repetitive movements that put a strain on your back. Being overweight and smoking also accelerate disc wear.
In many cases, an initial period of rest helps with the pain and allows your body to start healing the damage. You can use over-the-counter pain medication and apply a cold compress or ice pack to the painful area at intervals throughout the day.
Dr. Bedi can also prescribe muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory medications if required. Once your back stops spasming, gentle heat and a carefully designed program of physical therapy can help you heal.
If necessary, Dr. Bedi can administer epidural steroid injections to help with the pain, or you may benefit from radiofrequency ablation therapy. Regenerative medicine techniques like platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy may also help. If these initial approaches aren’t easing your symptoms, surgery may be advisable.
Dr. Bedi can carry out a lumbar microdiscectomy to remove the affected part of the disc and any tissue that’s pressing on the nerves. If you have a herniated disc in your neck, Dr. Bedi carries out an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF), replacing the damaged disc with bone that he then fuses to the vertebrae.
If you have back pain or think you may have a herniated disc, call Camelback Spine Care today or book online.