What is a Herniated Disc?

Disc herniation is most often the result of gradual wear and tear of spinal discs, which are the shock absorbers of the spine. When a disc herniates, it bulges or breaks open. While a herniated disc can happen in any part of the spine, it most often occurs in the lower (lumbar) spine.

Causes and Risk Factors

  • Age: As we age, our spinal discs lose some of the fluid that helps them maintain flexibility. Wear and tear of the disc is an extension of disc dehydration and the natural progression of aging.
  • Occupation: People with physically demanding jobs have a greater risk of back problems.
  • Trauma: Injuries to the spine can cause tiny tears or cracks in the outer layer of the disc.
  • Weight: Excess body weight places extra stress on the discs of the lower back.

Symptoms

Common Symptoms of Herniated Disc Pain Include:

  • If a herniated disc presses on nerve roots, it can cause pain, numbness and weakness in the area of the body where the nerve travels.
  • A herniated disc in the lower back can cause pain and numbness in the buttock and down the leg, which is called sciatica.
  • A herniated disc that doesn’t press on a nerve may cause no backache or pain at all.
  • A herniated disc in the upper part of the lower (lumbar) spine may cause pain in the front of the thigh.
  • A herniation in the neck (cervical spine) can cause pain or numbness in the shoulders, arms or chest.

Nerve-Related Symptoms Caused By A Herniated Disc:

  • Tingling or numbness in one leg
  • Weakness in certain leg muscles
  • Pain in the front of the thigh
  • Weakness in both legs and the loss of bladder and/or bowel control

Diagnosis

A herniated disc can usually be diagnosed with a physical exam and medical history. However, in order to pinpoint which nerves might be affected, your diagnosis could include:

  • Imaging tests such as a CT scan or an MRI to confirm the location of the herniation. In addition, a myelogram can locate pressure on the spinal cord or nerves due to multiple herniated discs or other conditions.
  • Nerve tests such as an electromyogram (EMG) or a nerve conduction test can measure how well electrical impulses are moving along the nerve tissue.

Treatment Options

At PMIR Medical Center, we understand that pain is a complex condition that affects the whole person—body, mind and spirit. We provide a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to treatment, customizing the most effective treatment plans for our patients and empowering them to become a collaborative partner in their recovery process.

For herniated disc, the treatment options we typically offer include:

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