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Herniated Disc – Bulging disc – Sciatica – Slipped disc

What is Herniated Disc and what are the causes of Herniated Disc?
Each disc of the spine is similar to a soft, jelly-like donut. As the disc degenerates from age or injury, the softer central portion can rupture (herniate) through the surrounding outer ring.  This abnormal rupture of the central portion of the disc through the outer ring is referred to as a disc herniation.

 

The most common location for a herniated disc is at the level between the fourth and fifth lumbar vertebrae (bones) in the low back.  This occurs because of the natural distribution of weight along the spine.  The area between the fourth and fifth lumbar vertebrae is constantly absorbing the impact of bearing the weight of the upper body. This is especially important when we are standing or bending, sitting, and lifting objects. Herniated discs cause pain in the spine and/or down one or both arms or legs.  At times, pain is not present.  Instead, a person may notice leg or arm numbness, tingling, electrical currents, shocks or the sensation that water or bugs are running over the skin. Weakness may also be a symptom.  This occurs because herniated discs cause physical irritation and/or chemical irritation of the spinal nerves that are in close proximity to the herniation.

 

Is sciatica a result of my herniated disc?

“Sciatica” is a commonly used name for radiculitis.  Radiculitis is a condition in which pain radiates along a nerve path due to pressure or inflammation of the nerve root at the level where the nerve connects to the spine. The location and type of pain depends on the area of the spine where the compression occurs.  This, in turn, determines which part of the individual’s body is affected by these symptoms of pain, numbness, tingling, and/or weakness.

 

What’s radiculopathy?
Radiculopathy is a condition due to a compressed nerve in the spine that can cause pain, numbness, tingling or weakness along the course of the nerve. It is most common in the lower back (lumbar radiculopathy) and in the neck (cervical radiculopathy). It is less commonly found in the middle portion of the spine (thoracic radiculopathy).

 

What are the treatment methods for Herniated Disc?
As with all injuries, treatment begins with conservative measures.  These include reducing activity and using appropriate pain and anti-inflammatory medications.  Complete bed rest, however, is not recommended.  With these measures, the pain will usually resolve within a few days to weeks. If the pain continues, other forms of treatment such as chiropractic and physical therapy may be indicated. For persistent symptoms, interventional pain management therapy may be necessary. This treatment may include an injection of small amount of cortisone (steroid), which is a strong anti-inflammatory placed into the affected nerve. This medicine is injected into the epidural space of the spine (please read through the Treatment section of this website) The treatment is very effective in most cases. The injection may need to be repeated if only partial relief is obtained. The procedure takes just a few minutes and is performed on an outpatient basis. Although this treatment poses low risk for complications, such as headache, in very rare cases they can occur.