What is a Herniated Disc?

The backbone or spine is made up of 26 vertebrae that are each separated and cushioned by soft discs of a jelly-like substance. A herniated disc refers to a rupturing of one of these discs and the pain and discomfort associated with such an injury.

What are Causes of Herniated Discs?

Herniated discs are generally the result of disc degeneration (discussed below) from aging and daily strain over a lifetime. As a person ages each disc begins to lose a portion of it water content thus making the disc more vulnerable to strain or tears as the flexibility has been diminished. While most people cannot attribute their herniated discs to a specific moment, lifting heavy object with your back or twisting while lifting may result in a herniated disc.

What are the Symptoms of a Herniated Disc?

Many individuals with herniated discs may show no signs or symptoms and are only diagnosed after spinal images are taken but some symptoms include:

  • Arm or leg pain
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Weakness in muscles affected by the disc

Conservative Treatments

Rest:

Rest is often the best initial course of action as a majority of herniated discs do not require aggressive treatment. Your doctor may recommend a short period of rest followed by a slow transition back into activities.

Medication for pain relief:

  • Over the counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen for mild ot moderate pain
  • Non-narcotic nerve pain medication may be taken because of the mild side effects in comparison with narcotics
  • Muscle relaxers may be prescribed to those patients with muscle spasms
  • Cortisone injections or inflammation suppressing corticosteroids may be injected via needle directly into the area to reduce swelling and inflammation.

Therapy:

Physical therapists can show patients positions and exercises that can minimize pain. Core strength is essential to protecting the back and alleviating back pain. A physical therapist may also implement:

  • Heat or ice
  • Traction
  • Ultrasound
  • Bracing
  • Electrical Stimulation

Ways to Alleviate Pain From a Herniated Disc

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) may be taken over the counter to reduce initial inflammation and pain. If pain persists, contact a medical professional to receive a pain treatment plan designed for you.

Places to Get Help

Get excellent bone and joint treatment from the top doctors at OrthoArizona – Arizona Orthopaedic Associates.