Treatment for Herniated Disc in Cincinnati
The spine specialists at Beacon Orthopaedics are committed to providing the most conservative treatment to effectively treat our patients’ symptoms. A herniated disc can affect the cervical, thoracic, or lumbar area of the spine and cause pain, numbness, difficulty balancing, weakness, and other symptoms. Our experts provide a range of treatments to alleviate our patients’ pain and symptoms, and get them back to enjoying their favorite activities.
What is a Herniated Disc?
The spine is made up of a series of small bones, called vertebrae, between which sit intervertebral discs. These discs are flexible, flat, and round, and are made up of a soft, jelly-like nucleus surrounded by a tough outer ring. Intervertebral discs help to cushion the spine and absorb shock stimulated by walking or other movement.1
In a herniated disc, sometimes referred to as a slipped disc, wear and tear or an injury causes the jelly-like nucleus to push against the outer ring of the disc. This applies pressure, which can cause pain, weakness, and other symptoms. In some cases, increased pressure causes the nucleus to push through the outer ring of the disc, causing the disc to bulge and put pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots nearby.
Causes of a Herniated Disc
The nucleus of an intervertebral disc has a high water content, which gradually decreases as part of the natural aging process. This causes discs to shrink, reducing the space between vertebrae and making discs more likely to herniate. Thus, the leading cause of a herniated spinal disc is age-related wear and tear. Other potential risk factors that may increase a person’s likelihood of developing a herniated disc include:
- Improper lifting
- Traumatic injury
- Genetic predisposition
- Excessive body weight
- Repetitive physical activities, like pulling or twisting
- Excessive or frequent driving
- Lack of exercise
Cervical Herniated Disc Symptoms
The symptoms of a slipped disc vary widely depending on the location and extent of the herniated disc. Since your spinal column contains a vast network of nerves, a slipped or herniated disc may cause numbness, tingling, pain, or discomfort to other areas of your body, such as your fingers, feet, or legs. For example, a slipped disc in the cervical (upper) spine may result in:
- Chronic back and upper extremity pain
- Numbness in the neck or shoulder region
- Weakness or loss or strength
- Tingling in the fingers, hand, or arm
Thoracic Herniated Disc Symptoms
The thoracic area is the middle of the spine. A herniated disc in this area of the spine may cause symptoms such as:
- Upper back pain
- Radiating pain in the chest wall or abdomen
Lumbar Herniated Disc Symptoms
The lumbar, or lower area of the spine is the most common site of a herniated disc. Symptoms of a herniated disc in the lumbar area of the spine are usually short-lived or intermittent, though they may be continuous in some cases. Herniated lumbar disc symptoms may include:
- Sciatica: pain that starts at the lower back or buttock and extends down the leg
- Weakness in the legs
- Numbness in the legs or feet
- Decreased reflexes
- Changes to bowel or bladder function3
Non-Surgical Treatment for a Herniated Disc
The first step in treating a herniated disc is to address the patient’s pain. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help relieve pain, as can a short period of rest. Additional non-surgical treatments for a herniated disc include:
- Physical therapy
- Epidural spine injections
Surgical Treatment for a Herniated Disc
When conservative treatments fail to provide a herniated disc patient with adequate, lasting relief or if patients continue to experience muscle weakness, difficulty getting around, or loss of bladder or bowel control, our spine experts may recommend surgical treatment.
The surgical procedure performed to treat a herniated disc is called a discectomy. This procedure involves the removal of the herniated part of the disc and any disc fragments that may be contributing to a patient’s symptoms. Most patients enjoy near-immediate relief from their symptoms after a discectomy procedure, which is often followed by physical therapy and rehabilitation.
Contact Beacon Orthopaedics
The fellowship trained spine doctors at Beacon Orthopaedics specialize in helping patients recover from problems caused by chronic conditions and overuse. If you are experiencing discomfort or pain that may be related to a slipped disc or other spine injury or condition, please consider visiting one of our spine physicians for a comprehensive examination and to determine the best plan of action to help you return to a pain free life. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our spine experts.
1 American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Spine Basics. Available: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/spine-basics/. Accessed July 19, 2021.
2 American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Herniated Disk in the Lower Back. Available: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/herniated-disk-in-the-lower-back/. Accessed July 19, 2021.
3 Hopkins Medicine. Lumbar Disk Disease (Herniated Disc). Available: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/lumbar-disc-disease-herniated-disc. Accessed July 19, 2021.