Herniated Disc Treatment
Back and neck pain can often be traced to a herniated disc. Discs are the rubbery, soft pads between each of the spine’s vertebra (or bones). They act as shock absorbers, providing cushioning, stability, and flexibility for your spine. These discs are made of a tough outer ring with a gel-like nucleus in the center.
When part of the nucleus pushes out through a tear in the outer layer of a disc, it can irritate nearby nerves, which causes pain, numbness, or weakness in an arm or leg. This is what is known as a herniated, ruptured, or slipped disc. It often occurs as a result of age-related wear-and-tear damage – otherwise known as disc degeneration.
Over the years, discs lose their water content, becoming less flexible and more prone to tearing. Other factors that can hasten this degeneration and increase your risk of getting a herniated disc include smoking, being overweight, and poor posture while lifting. It’s also prevalent in occupations or activities that require repetitive movements, such as bending, twisting, lifting, or pulling.
Herniated Discs Symptoms
Herniated discs happen most often in the lumbar (lower back) spine but can also occur in the cervical (neck) spine. Symptoms may vary, depending on the location and severity of the rupture, but can include:
- Pain in the neck or low back area
- Arm or leg weakness
- A tingling sensation or numbness in your shoulders, neck, arms, legs, or buttocks
- A loss of bowel or bladder control (rare)
Then again, you can have a herniated disc without exhibiting any of these symptoms.
At Ahlgren Spine in Rochester Hills, Bad Axe, and Lapeer, Michigan, Dr. Bradley D. Ahlgren can diagnose your herniated disc by performing a physical examination and review of your symptoms and medical history, along with imaging tests, such as X-ray, MRI, or CT scan, and by measuring your nerve function with a nerve conduction test or electromyography (EMG).
Once a diagnosis is reached, Dr. Ahlgren can recommend the best course of treatment for your specific condition, starting with nonsurgical options designed to relieve your pain and restore function to your spine. These may include:
- Pain-relieving medications
- Physical therapy
- Spinal steroid injections
- Wearing a back or neck brace
Only if your pain or symptoms don’t go away with these measures will surgery be considered or recommended. If you do need surgery, the procedure differs according to the location of the herniated disc. An anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) is the most common surgery for a herniated disc in the neck, while a microdiscectomy or laminectomy may be performed to treat a herniated disc in the low back.
Herniated Disc Relief in Rochester Hills, Bad Axe, and Lapeer, Michigan
For relief from a herniated disc, call Ahlgren Spine today at (248) 215-8080 and schedule a consultation with Dr. Ahlgren, or you can use our online request form to arrange your visit.