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Learn more about herniated disc pain from Laser Spine Institute

As we age, the elements that compose the spinal column begin to naturally deteriorate. This degeneration process can contribute to common conditions including herniated discs. Discs are the spongy cushions located between the vertebrae. Composed of approximately 90 percent water in a healthy adult, during the degeneration process these discs begin to lose a portion of their water. This can cause the disc to shrink in height, placing an excessive amount of pressure on the outer layer of the disc. This pressure causes the disc to bulge or, in some cases, herniate.

Herniated disc causes

Herniated discs can be the result of any number of different factors including poor nutrition, an unhealthy body weight and repetitive stress to the body. Over time, excessive lifting of heavy objects can overstress and break down the spinal discs, leading to a partial or even full herniation. Additionally, unhealthy lifestyle choices such as alcohol or tobacco abuse can cause the spinal discs to lose their strength and flexibility. While these can all be contributing factors, the most common cause of a herniated disc is the ongoing wear and tear discs endure, coupled with the natural aging process.

Diagnosis of a herniated disc

Because herniated discs share symptoms with several other back conditions, your doctor must first determine if disc herniation is indeed the source of your discomfort. After an examination of your personal medical history and that of your family’s, your physician will likely perform a physical examination to test flexibility, muscular strength and whether or not you have proper nerve function in your extremities. If your doctor suspects that a herniated disc may be the problem, he or she will likely order a series of imaging tests to accurately determine the exact source of your pain or discomfort.

Herniated disc symptoms

Living with a herniated disc can be devastating. Though not all herniated discs cause pain and symptoms, when the disc material migrates into other areas of the spinal column it can cause compression or irritation, resulting in debilitating symptoms. These can include:

  • Aching at the area of the condition
  • Radiating pain into arms or legs
  • Pain at the area of the condition
  • Radiating numbness into arms or legs
  • Radiating tingling into arms or legs
  • Weakness

Herniated disc conservative and alternative treatments

Living with these symptoms can have a large impact on your ability to enjoy simple daily activities. Before recommending surgical procedures, we first suggest exploring the nonsurgical conservative and alternative treatment options available to you. Common conservative treatments for a herniated disc include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), cold or hot compresses, physical therapy or lifestyle changes. In order to see optimal results from these treatments, you may need to work with your doctor to combine these methods over the course of several weeks or months. In addition to these conservative options, many patients have found relief from alternative forms of treatment such as chiropractic care or yoga sessions. Before engaging in any of these treatment options, be sure to consult with your doctor first.

Herniated disc surgery

If conservative options fail to bring you relief, Laser Spine Institute offers an effective alternative to traditional open spine procedures with minimally invasive spine surgery. Performed through an incision smaller than an inch, these procedures offer a shorter recovery time and lower risk of complication than open neck and back surgery.^

Contact Laser Spine Institute today for more information and to receive a review of your MRI or CT scan at no cost* to determine if you may be a potential candidate for one of our procedures.