What Is a Herniated Disc?
A herniated disc is a common source of neck and back pain. This condition occurs when the firm outer border of a spinal disc tears open, allowing some of the disc’s soft inner gel material to push through the breach and invade the spinal canal. While this type of damage can occur through direct trauma, a herniated disc is more often a result of age-related spinal degeneration.
What does it feel like to have a herniated disc?
A herniated disc can cause varying degrees of discomfort – and sometimes none at all. Any associated pain is usually a result of nerve compression caused by a herniated disc, rather than the herniation itself. For instance, a compressed nerve in the lower back can cause sciatica, which is characterized by sharp, shooting pains that extend from the buttocks down the back of one leg to the corresponding foot. Other symptoms include:
- Lower back pain
- Muscle weakness in a leg or foot
- Numbness or tingling sensations in a leg or foot
- Loss of bladder or bowel control (a rare but serious complication known as cauda equina syndrome, which warrants emergency medical attention)
Likewise, if a herniated disc causes nerve compression in the neck, it can produce pain in the trapezius muscles between the neck and shoulders. Other possible symptoms include:
- Burning pain that travels from the neck through a shoulder, arm and hand
- Muscle weakness in an arm or hand
- Numbness or pins-and-needles sensations in an arm or hand
How is a herniated disc treated?
Herniated disc symptoms often resolve on their own or with conservative treatment over the course of several weeks. Many people do well with a brief period of rest, activity modifications, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), hot/cold compresses and physical therapy. In general, spine surgery is recommended only as a last resort for addressing severe or disabling symptoms.
At Advanced Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine of Houston, Texas, we offer both conservative and surgical herniated disc treatments ranging from physical therapy and prescription medications to corticosteroid injections and spinal decompression surgery. Our team will evaluate your general health, symptoms and imaging scans to help you find the best approach to treatment. If you experience numbness around your saddle area or lose bladder or bowel control, we encourage you to seek immediate medical attention. These are signs of a serious complication known as cauda equina syndrome, which may require emergency surgery to alleviate nerve compression.
To learn more about our approach to herniated disc treatment, contact Advanced Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine of Houston, TX, to speak with a spine specialist today.
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1Professional Building II At North Cypress Medical Center
AOSM Physical Therapy
2North Cypress Professional Building At Lakewood Crossing
AOSM Physical Therapy
3North Cypress Professional Building At Towne Lake
4Advanced Orthopaedics Memorial
What Our Patients Are Saying
Dr. David R. Mack replaced my right hip in June 2009, and my left in October 2010. I am already able to go places and do things on my own again.
All the staff performed in a professional manner.All of my questions and concerned where explained to me so i could understand them. Great job all around. Thanks
Dr. Mills is a great hand specialist. He gets right to the point and is very kind to offer exercises to do to get my full range of motion back.
I have to give everyone 5 stars from the front office and staff to Dr. Blalock and Dr. Patel all were great with very professional service.
Doctor Brooks is the best. His advice to get lubricant injected into my knees has made my life so much better. Kudos!
I was treated by Dr. Brooks, about a month ago, for a terrible pain on my right knee. He treated me and within 2 days I was like new. Now the pain started on my left knee. This time I went immediately to Dr. Brooks.
It has been eight weeks since my partial knee replacement and now I realized just how much I was missing. Having it done has made such a difference to my life. For a start my leg is now straight and my knees actually touch!
Completing forms online beforehand was quick and simple. I arrived 30 minutes prior to my appointment as requested, and was pleasantly surprised to be summonsed less than 10 minutes from arrival.
Excellent care and attention to patients. I recently had a total hip replacement and I am able to walk 6 weeks after surgery with no cane.
Thanks for the help on strengthening my legs after the back surgery, There was no pain shooting down the back of my legs after surgery. I am recovering well with no pain medications after seven days.