The spinal column comprises vertebrae or bones and a pillow-like disc exists between each vertebra that serves as a shock absorber or cushion. Vertebral discs have a strong outer layer and a nucleus in the center. Wear and tear disease tends to cause the disc to degenerate, pushing the nucleus off the annulus via a tear into the spinal canal. When this happens, it irritates the nerves and narrows down the spinal canal. Also known as bulged, ruptured, or slipped disc, a herniated disc is common within the lumbar and cervical areas of the spine. If you have spinal disorders and deformities, Dr. Patrick S. McNulty, an orthopedic surgeon, and spine specialist in Las Vegas can help with the diagnosis and treatment.
Symptoms of a Herniated Disc
When the herniated disc presses against your spinal nerves, it causes pain that can be severe. Often the location of this pain depends on the region of the herniation as well as its size. A minimal herniation that doesn’t touch on the nerve will cause mild pain. If it presses on the nerve, you may experience numbness or weakness. Because spinal nerves travel to different parts of the body, you may have symptoms occurring anywhere, not just in your back.
Also, disc herniation within the lumbar region can cause sciatica or radiculopathy, causing a burning and tingling sensation. The sensation may radiate from your buttock down to your leg and foot. When you sit, stand, or walk, the symptoms get worse. Disc herniation in your cervical region can cause sharp or dull pain within the neck and shoulder blades. Besides, it may cause radiating pain, tingling, and numbness in the arms, hands, as well as fingers.
Treatment of a Herniated Disc
A herniated disc can be treated non-surgically and surgically. An orthopedic surgeon may recommend reduced activity after treatment for a few weeks. The doctor also prescribes NSAIDs to help relieve mild to moderate pain. For severe symptoms, injection therapy using steroids may be offered. Physical therapy is an essential part of treatment and usually includes manual manipulations, stretching exercises, temperature therapy, electrical stimulation, and ultrasound.
If conservative treatment does not produce the desired results, surgery may be recommended. This is especially so if a patient is experiencing significant symptoms and is impaired by disc herniation. During the surgery, the surgeon removes the herniated portion. For example, in a microdiscectomy, the surgeon removes part of the bone and disc, causing compression on the nerves. Your orthopedic surgeon will determine the most effective treatment for herniated disc, depending on the nature of the condition.
Don’t let your spine problem take its toll on your life. For something as delicate and frail as the spine, you need to put your trust in an orthopedic specialist who has years of experience offering advanced spine care and treatment. This way, you will be sure that you get the right treatment and get back to your normal life as soon as possible. The earlier you seek treatment, the more successful the treatment is.