Herniated Disc Q & A

What is a herniated disc?

The discs in-between your vertebrae can sometimes bulge and then rupture, so they start pressing on the nerves in your spine. These herniated discs cause back or neck pain and can affect your arms or legs as well, depending on which disc is herniated.

You can get a herniated disc anywhere along your spine, but the cervical vertebrae that make up your neck and the lumbar vertebrae in your lower back are more prone to disc problems that the thoracic vertebrae in your upper back.

What causes herniated discs?

Discs herniate when the interior of the disc pushes through the outer layer of the disc. The discs in-between each vertebra are tough but flexible pads of tissue with a soft, jelly-like inside. There are two causes for these herniations:

Degenerative disc disease

Over time, discs lose some of their water content and start to dry out and compress, a condition called degenerative disc disease. The outer coating of the disc weakens, and the inside jelly pushes through the weak spot.

Back or neck injuries

Discs can herniate if you’re involved in an accident or trauma that impacts your spine, like a fall or auto accident. You can also herniate a disc by overstraining your back, for example, if you try to pick up something heavy using unsafe lifting techniques.

What are the symptoms of a herniated disc?

Herniated discs don’t always cause symptoms, so you could have a herniated disc and not realize. It’s when the inside of the disc starts pressing on your nerves that you begin to experience the effects, which include:

  • Severe pain
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Weakness

If the herniated disc is in your neck, you could feel these symptoms in your shoulders, arms, and hands. If the herniated disc is lower down your back, you could feel these symptoms in your buttocks, legs, and feet.

What treatments are there for herniated discs?

Treatment programs created at Optimal Pain & Regenerative Medicine® for bulging or herniated discs begin by using conservative approaches such as:

  • Pain-relieving medication
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Cold compresses or ice packs
  • Gentle heat
  • Physical therapy
  • Epidural steroid injections
  • Selective nerve root injections

The team at Optimal Pain & Regenerative Medicine® also offers advanced, minimally invasive procedures for patients who aren’t feeling the benefit of more conservative approaches. Treatments include:

Percutaneous discectomy

Percutaneous discectomy is a minimally invasive procedure that uses a single small probe inserted through a small incision in your back. It involves removing some of the protruding disc material, so it’s not pressing on the nerves.

Regenerative medicine techniques, including PRP (platelet-rich plasma) and stem cell therapies, can also help by boosting your body’s ability to grow new, healthy tissue.

If you have symptoms of a herniated disc or other back or neck pain problems, call Optimal Pain & Regenerative Medicine® today, or book using the online tool.