Herniated Disc Treatments at Maimonides Spine Center in Brooklyn, NY
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A herniated disc refers to a problem with one of the cushioning discs between the vertebrae of the spine.
Herniated discs go by many other names, including bulging disc, slipped disc, ruptured disc, collapsed disc, torn disc, pinched nerve, and others. This understandably leads to some confusion, especially when these terms are used interchangeably.
Regardless of the term used to describe it, the most important thing to know is that a herniated disc occurs when the soft protein gel inside the disc leaks into the spinal canal. This protein gel is called the “nucleus pulposus,” and it is encased by a thick exterior made of collagen fiber, called the “annulus fibrosus.”
The gel-like material inside the discs has inflammatory proteins that can irritate or put pressure on the spinal cord of nearby nerve roots, leading to pain and other symptoms.
Herniated Disc Causes
Herniated discs can occur anywhere in the spine—in the cervical (neck), thoracic (middle), or lumbar (lower) regions, although cervical and lumbar disc herniations are most common.
A disc can become herniated from normal aging, as the discs of the spine dry out and become more brittle. It can also occur from:
Spinal trauma, as from a sports injury or car accident
Repetitive stress, as from lifting heavy objects on the job
Obesity, which can place excess strain on the spine
Smoking, which impairs circulation and prevents essential nutrients from being delivered around the body
Genetics; a family history of herniated discs or other degenerative spine conditions can increase the likelihood a person will develop a similar condition
Herniated Disc Symptoms
Symptoms depend on the location of the herniated disc. Here are some of the possible symptoms:
Cervical herniated disc: Pain in the neck; tingling (pins-and-needles) sensation, muscle weakness or numbness that extends into the arms, hands, and/or fingers; trouble walking; a feeling of heaviness in the hands and feet.
Thoracic herniated disc: Upper back pain that may radiate into the chest or stomach; back stiffness; muscle weakness.
Lumbar herniated disc: Pain, weakness, numbness, or tingling in one or both legs; muscle spasms; muscle weakness; loss of bladder or bowel control (rare, but requires immediate medical attention, as it can indicate something called cauda equina syndrome).
Herniated Disc Treatment
Spine specialists usually begin by recommending conservative, nonsurgical treatments to provide herniated disc relief. These can include medications, such as anti-inflammatory drugs, as well as physical therapy and manual manipulation (chiropractic care). Physical therapists will also train patients on proper lifting techniques and may have the patient assess ergonomics at work.
In some cases, surgery to repair the herniated disc (discectomy) may be necessary to provide relief or prevent permanent nerve damage. Each person’s case is unique and requires a personalized approach.
Spine Specialists at Maimonides Medical Center
The expert herniated disc specialists at Maimonides provide customized solutions for people with herniated discs at our state-of-the-art facility in Brooklyn, NY. Relief from herniated disc pain is possible.
Maimonides Spine Center is conveniently located at 6010 Bay Parkway, 8th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11204.