What is a Herniated Disc?

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What is a Herniated Disc?

Each year, millions of Americans suffer from neck and back pain due to herniated discs. This condition is incredibly common, but do you know what causes a herniated disc? Or, do you know what treatments are best for providing relief from painful symptoms?
To help explain herniated discs and help you discover if it may be a pain-causing condition for you, here are the answers to four of the most commonly asked questions we hear.

What is a herniated disc?

Spinal discs are spongy structures located between each pair of bones (or vertebrae) in your spine, that provide shock absorption as well as help your spine remain flexible and mobile. Each spinal disc is comprised of two layers: a tough outer layer called the annulus fibrosus and a softer gel-like interior called the nucleus pulposus.

While normally discs fit snugly between the vertebrae, sometimes a disc can shift and extend beyond the edge of the bone – becoming herniated or “pinched.” Once a disc slips out of position, it begins to press on surrounding nerves, causing symptoms like:

  • Local and radiating pain
  • Numbness
  • Burning sensations
  • Muscle weakness in the arms or legs


What causes a herniated disc?

There are numerous reasons why herniated discs occur. While some are more common than others, the most common causes include:

  • Injury, such as a slip or fall, which jolts the spine and forces the disc out of its usual position.
  • An underlying medical condition that affects the spine.
  • Lifestyle habits like prolonged periods of sitting, lots of heavy lifting or repetitive movements like bending or squatting.
  • Obesity and/or age-related spine changes also make herniated discs more likely.

How is a herniated disc treated?

In most cases, herniated disc treatment begins with conservative options such as:

  • Hot and cold compresses
  • Gentle stretching exercises
  • Medication to reduce pain and inflammation
  • Corticosteroid injections can also be helpful in some patients.

When these options fail to provide long-term relief of pain and other symptoms, surgery may be recommended in order to reduce pressure on the nerves so painful symptoms can be resolved. At Southern Laser Spine, we offer minimally invasive procedures to treat herniated discs – as opposed to “traditional” spine surgery – in order to speed up the recovery time. Several types of surgery may be used to treat herniated discs, including microdiscectomy which has been proven to provide patients with optimal results.

How can I tell if my symptoms are due to a herniated disc?

Herniated discs can cause a variety of symptoms that can range in severity, depending on the patient’s age and underlying health, the cause of the herniation and other factors. The best way to know if your back pain and other symptoms are due to a herniated disc is to schedule an office visit with a spine specialist.

At Southern Laser Spine, we use advanced technology to diagnose and treat herniated discs and other spine-related conditions, providing patients with an array of minimally invasive treatment options to help you feel their best. To learn more about the Southern Laser Spine or to request a free phone consultation, call the office at 305-901-1268 or click the button below.



Topics: Back Pain Lower Back Pain Spine Condition