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
I’ve been with this orthopedic group since 2014. I’ve never had a bad experience with the doctors or the staff. Dr. Drew Fehsenfeld did my shoulder surgery in 2016 and he did great!
I have been fighting chronic knee pain for ten years following a knee replacement, a bone infection, and subsequent knee revision surgery. After a number of failed solutions to pain relief, Dr. Patel introduced me to RF
Dr. Tanous and everyone at Advanced Orthopaedics are great. The surgery to repair my knee injury and the treatment afterwards were handled amazingly well.
I was in pain for a couple of months and went to see Dr. Cubbage. He knew right away by the way my posture what the issue was. He had me scheduled in and he along with his staff were awesome.
Advanced Orthopedics & Sports Medicine has, at 76, virtually given me a new lease on being mobile and active. I have seen Dr’s Tanous, Patel, and Cubbage for an assortment of neck, spine and hip problems.
Dr. Mohr and his staff are very friendly people. They treated my father very well and made him feel comfortable in his uncomfortable situation.
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!
I just recovered from my 2nd back surgery by Dr. Mohr. I love the people there so much I just went back and saw a shoulder surgeon Dr. Fehsenfeld for cortisone shots.
I had Back surgery October 1st with fusion. My surgeon was Dr. M Cubbage and my experience I feel could not be any more satisfied with my surgery.
Dr. Patel has been a great Doctor for me. When I was referred to after discussion we decided to do injections in my back.