Your doctor has just told you that a herniated disc is causing the back pain that is preventing you from going on your morning swim, playing softball with your coworkers, or any of the other activities you enjoy as part of your normal, healthy lifestyle. But what exactly does this mean? Maybe you’ve heard of this condition before, or had a friend or family member experience it for themselves. But if you aren’t really sure what causes this condition, what its symptoms are, and how you can treat it, it’s worth your time to gather this information.
Causes of a Herniated Disc
The vertebrae in your spine have intervertebral discs between them – soft, spongy bodies that serve as shock absorbers and that allow for the twisting, flexing, and other movements your spine performs on a daily basis. Over time, these discs naturally degenerate as part of the aging process. Discs are prone to losing water content, becoming brittle, thinning, or otherwise deforming. When this occurs, the disc can bulge past its normal size and shape, and eventually it can even burst through its thick outer wall – this is a herniated disc, also known as a ruptured disc. By itself, this condition does not necessarily cause any problems. However, when the inner material that has seeped out of the disc compresses or impinges upon a spinal nerve or the spinal cord itself, it can result in a variety of symptoms.
The symptoms of a herniated disc can include:
- Neck or lower back pain
- Pain radiating down the arms or legs
- And more
Your doctor will likely first recommend that you try a variety of nonsurgical, conservative treatments to help ease the pain and other symptoms related to your herniated disc. These can include rest, physical therapy, exercise, medication, hot/cold therapy, and others. However, surgery becomes an option for some patients who simply don’t respond to these options after weeks or months of treatment. If you’ve failed to see results and are considering surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute today. Our orthopedic experts perform a variety of safe, effective outpatient procedures that can help you rediscover your life without neck or back pain.