A herniated spinal disc may cause no symptoms, but it’s more likely to impinge upon surrounding nerves, causing a great deal of pain that radiates from the nerve root into other parts of the body. From conventional to surgical, there are treatments available that repair the damage, relieve the symptoms, and get you back to your healthy self.
At Center for Neurosurgery Las Vegas, board-certified neurosurgeon Dr. Scott Glickman and his team understand how painful and limiting a herniated disc can be. That’s why they offer numerous treatment options for their patients with disc problems. One question they get asked a lot, though, is if the problem will go away on its own. Here’s what they have to say.
The human adult has 24 bony vertebrae in their spine, which forms the backbone. Nestled between each pair of vertebrae are spinal discs, which have a hard outer shell (annulus fibrosus) and a gel-like interior (nucleus pulposus).
The discs’ function is threefold: to absorb the shock the spine endures from all types of movement, to prevent the bones from grating against each other, and to permit you to twist and bend.
Discs may be strong, but they’re not indestructible. Trauma to the spine can cause the shell to rupture, permitting the inner material to leak out into the spinal canal, the area containing the spinal cord and cerebrospinal fluid. If the material presses against nerve roots inside the canal, the nerve responds by sending out pain signals, as well as by causing weakness and/or numbness in the extremity it serves.
Herniated discs can happen anywhere along the spinal column, but they’re most common in the lumbar (lower back) and cervical (neck) regions. That’s because these regions experience the most movement, and they sustain the greatest amount of wear-and-tear damage as a result.
The best-known symptom of a herniated disc is pain, which can be mild and intermittent or severe and unrelenting. You usually feel it on just one side of the body, and it often radiates (travels) into an arm or leg along the nerve’s path.
A common example of radicular pain is sciatica. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body, starting in your lumbar spine and traveling through your buttocks and down the outside of your leg. If the L4-L5 disc herniates, it impinges on this nerve, sending pain all the way down into your foot.
Other symptoms you may experience with a herniated disc include:
Each person has their own combination of symptoms, and some of these symptoms may be caused by other problems, which is why it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis before starting treatment.
It’s entirely possible that, with rest, time, and conservative treatments, your herniated disc will heal on its own.
Here at Center for Neurosurgery Las Vegas, we always start with conservative treatments, which may include:
We also advocate lifestyle changes, including:
In a small percentage of cases, conservative treatments fail. In these cases, Dr. Glickman may recommend surgery, such as a microdiscectomy, to relieve the pain and pressure. This minimally invasive procedure removes the disc material impinging on the nerve root, relieving pressure and eliminating pain.
Usually, Dr. Glickman only removes a small part of your disc; however, if the entire body is torn, he may need to remove all of it. In such a case, he discusses the next steps with you, such as a spinal fusion or artificial disc replacement, tailoring the treatment plan to your own unique needs.
If you’re suffering from the pain and weakness of a herniated disc, the best thing you can do is to come into Center for Neurosurgery Las Vegas for an evaluation with Dr. Glickman. Call our office at 702-929-8242, text us at 725-210-0057, or book your appointment online.