Herniated Discs

What Is A Herniated Disc?

The spine is made up of bones called vertebrae that are separated by spongy, flat cylinders called intervertebral discs. These discs are what allow your spine to bend while also acting as shock absorbers. When one of these shock absorbers gets damaged, it is called a herniated disc. This condition is sometimes referred to as a ruptured or slipped disc. A herniated disc in the low back is sometimes called sciatica.

The disc is made up of two main parts: the firm outer layer and the soft inner layer. When a disc is herniated, the outer layer can tear, causing the inner layer to bulge, leak, or break off and place pressure on nerve roots in the spine, which can cause pain.

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What Causes A Herniated Disc?

Herniated discs can be caused by trauma that tears or cracks the outer layer of the intervertebral disc. You can also develop herniated discs due to aging, because intervertebral discs lose their sponginess and flexibility as we grow older.

What Are The Symptoms Of A Herniated Disc?

  • Low back ache
  • Pain, numbness, or weakness in other areas of the body depending on where the disc has herniated in the spine. You may experience shooting or radiating pain in your arms, leg, or neck
  • Loss of bladder and/or bowel control
    • If you have loss of control, seek medical help immediately at your nearest emergency room or hospital
  • Muscle pain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Loss of range of motion

Herniated discs can also be asymptomatic. Some studies have shown that up to 20 to 30 percent of people who have never had back pain were found to have a herniated disc show on MRI studies.

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How Is A Herniated Disc Diagnosed?

First step toward a herniated disc diagnosis is a physical exam by one of our specialists. This condition can also be diagnosed by X-ray, MRI, CT scan, or EMG.

What Treatment Options Are Available For A Herniated Disc?

At Coastal Spine, we provide herniated disc treatments in a variety of ways:

  • Medication:

    An anti-inflammatory medication may be prescribed to help reduce the pain and swelling associated with a herniated disc.

  • Surgery:

    If surgery is required for a herniated disc, treatment can often be provided in an outpatient setting with a minimally invasive surgical procedure. More than 95 percent of patients can have herniated discs removed in this manner.  The procedures are completed either in our spine dedicated surgical center, or the local hospital.

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