Herniated discs are what used to be known as slipped discs and are a likely cause of back pain. If you suspect you have a disc problem, you should visit board-certified pain management specialists Anh L. Ngo, MD MBA, and Manuel G. Sanchez, MD, of Pain Specialty Group in Newington, New Hampshire. They have considerable expertise in diagnosing herniated discs and finding the most effective treatments for your condition, so if you’re in pain, call the office today or book an appointment online.
The discs that sit between the vertebrae in your spine are made of a tough outer shell and a softer, jelly-like interior, which provides the cushioning effect that protects your spine. A disc is herniated when the soft interior is pushing through a weak spot in the outer shell.
The outer shell can weaken and tear for several reasons. For example, discs can deteriorate over time, causing degenerative disc disease, in which the disc starts to dry, compress, and weaken. Acute injuries from straining your back can also cause discs to rupture and start bulging out.
Herniation can affect any of the discs, but the lumbar region in the lower back is where it occurs most frequently. Sometimes a disc can herniate without you realizing it because it doesn’t cause any symptoms. In many cases, though, the interior of the disc starts to press on the nerves in the spine, causing pain and sometimes affecting other functions as well.
Herniated discs sometimes heal without intervention after a few weeks. However, if your back pain isn’t improving or you’re experiencing severe pain, you should call Pain Specialty Group.
If the interior of your herniated disc is pressing on a nerve, you could experience symptoms such as pain in specific areas, most often the back, legs, hands, or feet, and numbness of the hands, feet, or legs. Depending on the nerve affected and its function, you could also experience:
Herniated disc pain is generally worse when you stand up or if you try to move quickly and easing off when you lie down. Treatment for herniated discs used to involve lying flat in bed, but there are far better ways of healing your back and relieving pain than immobilizing yourself.
When you visit Pain Specialty Group, the first stage involves getting an accurate diagnosis of the cause of your pain.
The team has considerable expertise in assessing patients who have back pain. They start by carrying out a physical exam and a review of your medical history, and then use diagnostic imaging tests to confirm their diagnosis and assess the extent of the problem. If they suspect degenerative disc disease, you may also need to undergo a lumbar discogram.
The next stage is preparing a personalized treatment plan that suits you and your needs. Potential treatments for herniated discs include:
Most patients who have herniated discs find that a combination of these approaches works best to heal the disc and alleviate the pressure on your spinal nerves. If you undergo these treatments with no success, then surgery may be an option for, for example, a partial or complete disc replacement procedure.
If you think you have a herniated disc, find the right solution to your pain by calling Pain Specialty Group today, or book an appointment online.