Also called a slipped disc or ruptured disc, a herniated spinal disc can shut down the normal function of your life. Pain and loss of mobility are just the beginning, as the chronic pain may take a toll on your spirit. Getting you back to a pain-free state is the goal of Dr. Douglas Abeles of Douglas J. Abeles MD & Associates in Castro Valley, California. Call or use the online request tool today for an appointment to start your treatment.
Between each vertebra of your spine is a rubbery cushion that acts as a shock absorber and permits easy movement and flexibility. As with any tissue in your body, however, time takes a toll. The tough outer layer of a spinal disc eventually becomes more brittle and prone to tearing, which permits the softer jelly-like tissue within the disc to escape.
When this happens, that disc is herniated. The body does a good job of repairing slipped discs, given time, and you may never even know you have a disc problem. However, when the displaced disc tissue touches and irritates a nerve, you’re likely quite aware something is wrong. These irritated nerves can cause a range of symptoms.
The sensations you experience due to nerve compression from a herniated disc depend on which nerve or nerve bundle becomes irritated. Any disc in the spinal column can become herniated. The lower back is the most common location for disc problems, although they can occur in the neck as well.
Symptoms sometimes give a clue about the location of the slipped disc. If you’re having pain, tingling, or numbness in your arms and hands, the disc herniation is in the cervical spine, meaning the bones of your neck. When the sensations are strong in the buttocks, legs and feet, the lumbar spine of your lower back is the likely culprit.
In addition to sensations of pain, tingling, and numbness, you may feel weakness in the affected area.
Few cases of herniated discs require surgery, with most responding to conservative treatment within a few weeks. Pain management typically includes over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain relievers, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, although Dr. Abeles can prescribe stronger medications if your situation requires them.
Dr. Abeles may suggest physical therapy and at-home exercise. Chiropractic and acupuncture care also may relieve pain and speed healing, and these services are available through Dr. Abeles’ practice.
In the rare cases where surgery becomes necessary, the protruding portion of the disc is typically trimmed. Sometimes, the entire disc must be removed and the adjacent vertebrae surgically fused together because there’s no longer a cushion between them.