Herniated discs are painful and can have a detrimental effect on your overall quality of life. Back problems are a common cause of disability, and Medicare spending on herniated disc surgery alone exceeds $300 million.
While about 90% of herniated discs resolve without substantial medical intervention beyond pain management, seeking herniated disc treatment from New York Spine Specialist can help reduce pain, restore mobility, and allow you to go back to doing many of the activities you enjoy.
Herniated disc doctors classify the condition into three types: cervical, thoracic, and lumbar.
Cervical herniated discs are in the neck and cause sudden pain that extends into the arms; they can also cause numbness, tingling, or weakness in the arms. In rare cases, they can also cause leg pain and weakness, difficulty walking, balance issues, or total paralysis. Many people with cervical disc herniation struggle with fine motor skills using their hands, such as writing or using utensils.
A thoracic herniated disc is in the mid-back. It’s more likely to cause pain in one or both legs, leg weakness, and uncontrolled reflex movements in the leg or foot. In extreme cases, it can result in total paralysis from the waist down.
Found in the lower back, a lumbar herniated disc mostly affects the lower extremities. In addition to pain, weakness, numbness, and tingling in the legs and feet, lumbar herniations can also cause bladder and bowel control issues and foot drop, a condition that prevents you from controlling your foot.
Proper diagnosis is critical to effective herniated disc treatment. Spine specialists diagnose the condition by reviewing your medical history and symptoms, physically examining your spine and extremities, and testing your reflexes, balance, range of motion, and strength. Some patients may need additional imaging (X-ray, CT scan, or MRI) for a definitive diagnosis.
Some people assume that herniated disc treatment automatically means surgery. Although an operation is one option, surgeons reserve it for patients that do not respond to conservative treatment after six to 12 weeks or cases where the herniation is so large that there’s potential for permanent nerve damage. In general, about 10% of patients require surgery for a herniated disc after noninvasive treatment, according to a study published in BMJ Clinical Evidence.
Non-invasive treatment is typically the first course of action and may include:
For many people, these non-surgical herniated disc treatments effectively manage the pain of a herniated disc for long periods, and they never need to undergo surgical treatment. For example, research indicates that nearly 95% of people with herniated discs causing leg pain saw improvement in their symptoms after chiropractic treatment, and their symptoms resolved within one year.
If you do need herniated disc surgery in New York, New York Spine Specialist provides several options. The specific type of surgery that’s best for you depends on the location and severity of the disc damage.
The least invasive form of herniated disc surgery, this procedure involves removing fragments of the herniated disc via a quarter-inch incision using tiny tools. Guided by an endoscopic camera, the surgeon can repair the disc without cutting into the muscles, which reduces postoperative pain and speeds up recovery time.
During a laminectomy, the surgeon removes some of the bone from the vertebrae that are putting pressure on the disc and the surrounding nerves.
A surgeon can remove a severely damaged disc and replace it with an artificial one. This replacement takes the pressure off the nerve and preserves spinal mobility and function.
When other approaches don’t work, spinal fusion removes the herniated disc and uses bone grafts and small screws to fuse the vertebrae above and below it together. This process reduces spinal mobility, but it also alleviates pain and pressure and reduces the risk of nerve damage and further damage to the spinal column.
If you have a herniated disc or suspect the condition is causing your ongoing back pain, make an appointment with New York Spine Specialist for a diagnosis and to explore the treatment options. Our doctors accept most insurance plans, including workers’ compensation, no-fault, and PIP (personal injury protection).
Call (516) 355-0111 to schedule a consultation today. Same-day appointments may be available.
Your spine contains 33 disc-shaped bones known as vertebrae, connected by soft tissues like muscles, ligaments, and tendons, and together they make up the spinal column. There is a hole that runs through each vertebra all the way through the spinal column is called the spinal canal, and this is where your spinal cord is contained. To cushion your vertebrae, soft discs lie in between them, acting as shock absorbers and allowing the bending, twisting, and flexing of your spine.
The spinal discs are filled with a gelatin material, and covered by a firm outer shell. If that outer shell breaks, and the center of the disc leaks out, this is known as a herniated disc (Sometimes referred to as a slipped disc or a ruptured disc)
Generally, a herniated disc is caused by normal, age-related deterioration of the body (wear and tear) . But, there are some risk factors other than age associated with the condition, including:
Vertebral discs are the spinal column’s shock absorbers. These discs cushion the vertebral bones and allow the spine to twist and bend. A herniated disc can press against the spinal cord or nerve root, causing pain, numbness and tingling.
If your herniated disc doesn’t heal on its own after rest and the passage of time, you may be a candidate for surgery, including procedures such as discectomy (removal of the disc), spinal fusion, or some other types of surgical procedure. Our spinal experts will guide you through your options regarding these minimally invasive surgeries/procedures to help get you back on your feet as soon as possible.
With treatment (and, in some cases, without), herniated discs can shrink, dry up, or otherwise return to normal. Whether this occurs and how long it will take is impossible to predict, and it depends on the individual.
Anything that causes you to move in such a way that puts pressure on your spinal nerves can make the pain of a herniated disc worse. This includes coughing and sneezing, sitting for long periods, driving, and bending at the waist.
The Mayo Clinic reports that many people have asymptomatic herniated discs and may not even realize they have them. Most will go away on their own without any intervention, but if symptoms start to occur, seek herniated disc treatment.
An untreated herniated disc with symptoms can have dire consequences, including debilitating pain, partial or total paralysis, and nerve damage that results in the inability to control your bladder or bowels. Ignoring the symptoms of a herniated disc will often only make them worse.