What is a disc herniation?
- A disc herniation occurs when the shock-absorbing cushion between the vertebral bones which in your spine becomes injured. These discs are composed of a tough outer layer (annulus), with a jelly-like inner layer (nucleus) that helps make these discs such great shock-absorbers. The disc is described as “herniated” when this inner nucleus pushes out through a tear in the annulus. Because these discs are found throughout the spine, and reside next to the spinal cord and nerves of the spine, a herniated disc can occur at any spinal level and lead to nerve irritation and inflammation.
What are the symptoms of a disc herniation?
- Disc herniations can produce pain in the back near the disc, but may also have radiation of pain associated with nerve irritation
- Radiating leg pain (sciatica) which can extend from the low back or buttock all the way down the leg to the foot
- Numbness or tingling in the leg and/or foot
- Weakness in the leg and/or foot
- Loss of bowel or bladder control, typically indicating a rare and serious problem known as cauda equina syndrome and requiring immediate medical attention
How is a disc herniation diagnosed?
- To ensure an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment, it is best for patients to seek evaluation by a specialist, such as our physicians at Remedy Pain Solutions. Your encounter with the physician will likely consist of several steps which help to make the most accurate diagnosis, including:
- Patient history
- The physician reviews the medical complaints, asks about the onset of the pain, duration, other medical conditions, medications, and surgical history
- Physical examination
- Neurological examination – evaluates for muscle weakness or loss of sensation
- Straight leg raise test – accurate predictor of a disc herniation in patients under the age of 35
- Imaging studies
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan - preferred
- Computed tomography (CT) scan
- Computed tomography (CT) myelogram
How is a disc herniation treated?
- For the majority of patients, the symptoms related to a disc herniation will resolve within a period of several days to weeks. Patients who have pain which is either persistent or severe may require additional treatment. Our physicians at Remedy Pain Solutions may discuss with you various treatment options, including:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs)
- Physical therapy
- Epidural steroid injections
- Surgical intervention
- If you are dealing with symptoms consistent with a disc herniation and have questions about the treatment options available to you, call us at Remedy Pain Solutions to set up an appointment with one of our pain specialists today.