Herniated discs aren’t just for the elderly; in fact, they are most common in people between the ages of 30-50. Herniation can be incredibly painful and make you wonder if you’ll ever be the same again. Fortunately, most herniations can be resolved with minimally invasive techniques.
At Progressive Spine & Sports Medicine in Ramsey, New Jersey, our expert physicians can tell you if you have one or more herniated discs in your spinal column and create a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.
Your spine has three main components
The anatomy of the spine includes:
- The vertebrae (spinal bones), which are stacked on top of one another
- Cartilage layers, called discs, which separate the vertebrae like a cushion
- Nerves, which send sensation messages to your brain
What happens when a disc herniates
When a disc herniates, it actually breaks open. The hard rubbery exterior can develop small cracks, and the gel-like center can bulge out. This soft center puts pressure on nerves, causing pain and other sensation signals to travel to your brain.
Disc herniation can be caused by trauma, like an accident; by long-term activities that cause damage, like sitting at a computer desk for the majority of each day; and by short-term incidents such as lifting an object that is too heavy, such as when you are moving furniture.
Most cases of herniated discs occur in the lumber (lower) spine, although there can be cases of a slipped disc in the thoracic area (the midsection of the spine) or in your cervical spine (back of neck.)
Symptoms of a herniated disc
Nerves send messages to your brain that are interpreted as:
- Constant dull pain in the lower back, increasing to sharp pain with certain movements
- Radiating pain that travels down the arms or legs
- Additional pain spikes when your body moves abruptly, as when you sneeze or cough
- Tingling, numbness, or muscle weakness in your extremities
If bed rest followed with light exercise and reasonable pain management are implemented, many herniated discs resolve on their own. For serious cases, more advanced measures may need to be taken.
Herniated disc treatment
Treatment for herniated discs can vary based on your age, weight, lifestyle, and more. We may recommend
- Back support devices (braces)
- Electrical stimulation
- Hot/cold packs
- Joint injections, such as steroids
- Medication to help control pain while you heal
- Osteopathic manipulation treatments (OMT)
- Physical therapy (usually for multiple weeks to keep you flexible as you recover)
- Regenerative medicine
- Stem cell therapy
We work with you to diagnose your condition and develop a comprehensive treatment plan to help your herniated disc heal. You can learn more about herniated discs and discuss your options by talking to the team at Progressive Spine and Sports Medicine. Get in touch by calling 201-273-9702 or requesting an appointment online.