What is a herniated disc?
A herniated disc occurs when one of the discs that cushions your vertebrae (spinal bones) develops a crack in its tough exterior shell. This crack allows a small amount of the disc nucleus (the inner disc contents) to escape into the spinal canal.
Because your spinal canal is a quite narrow space, this additional material crowds your spinal nerve and can trigger significant discomfort.
What are the symptoms of a herniated disc?
A herniated disc typically causes pain — sometimes quite severe — in the spot where the disc fragment enters your spinal canal. You may also experience:
- Sciatica - Sciatica is an electric-type pain in which the disc fragment's pressure on your sciatic nerve — the longest nerve in your body — causes additional symptoms like burning, tingling, and numbness that shoot from one buttock down your leg.
- Cervical radiculopathy - Cervical radiculopathy is the same problem as sciatica, but in this case, the disc herniation and its associated symptoms happen in your neck (cervical spine). The shooting pain and other symptoms typically move down the shoulder and arm, possibly down to your fingers.
If your symptoms persist for more than a few days, seek medical care. For cases that persist for more than four weeks, it's important to see a neurology specialist like the experts at Ventura Neuroscience Center.
How is a herniated disc treated?
Herniated disc pain usually improves with conservative care including rest, over-the-counter medication, and physical therapy.
But, if you have resistant herniated disc symptoms, there are several different options, including pain injections and interventional pain management procedures to disrupt or deaden nerve signaling in the area.
In some cases, minimally invasive spine surgery is the best path to permanent pain relief, with some of the surgical options including:
- Laminotomy - A laminotomy removes part of the vertebral arch to make more room in the area and relieve pressure. Usually, it involves removing at least part of the offending disc (discectomy).
- Laminectomy - A laminectomy removes all of the vertebral arch, usually along with a discectomy.
- Disc replacement - After removing the entire herniated disc, some patients may receive an artificial disc in its place.
- Spinal fusion - A spinal fusion permanently stabilizes the spine by joining two vertebrae together after discectomy.
There may also be other surgical options to treat a herniated disc. Ventura Neuroscience Center uses the most up-to-date techniques and methods to manage your herniated disc so you can quickly return to a normal life. Call the office or click the scheduling link to arrange your appointment now.