Your spine is made up of vertebrae (bones) cushioned by small oval pads of cartilage called discs. Spinal discs are structured much like a jelly donut, with a tough outer ring called an annulus, and a soft central region called the nucleus pulposus. A herniated disc occurs when the contents of the nucleus pulposus push through the outer ring into the spinal canal.
When a disc is herniated, the surrounding nerves can become irritated and inflamed and cause symptoms of arm or leg pain, numbness or tingling and weakness in the affected areas. Most herniated discs are found in the lower back or lumbar spine, but herniated discs can also be found in the neck or cervical spine.
Some pain management patients may have a herniated disc without knowing it, even though a herniated disc may show up on imaging studies. When patients do get herniated disc pain symptoms, pain management treatment may be recommended ranging from simple exercise and medication to possible injections to help with herniated disc pain management. The most commonly known herniated disc pain symptom is sciatica pain, felt in the buttock and legs. If a nerve is not compressed, the herniated disc may cause a backache or no pain at all. The most common pain symptoms of herniated discs are as follows:
If you ever experience weakness and numbness along with loss of control of your bladder or bowels, you should seek medical care from a doctor immediately. This could indicate a serious problem requiring immediate medical care and pain management treatment from a herniated disc doctor.
A herniated disc occurs usually with gradual wear and tear of the disc, called disc degeneration. The center of a vertebral disc is fluid filled and loss of this fluid can lead to less flexibility and increased risk to tear or rupture. When the fluid filled, soft, central region of the disc (nucleus pulposus) pushes through a tear in the outer ring of the disc, a disc herniation, rupture or fragmenting of the disc can occur into the spinal canal. Herniated discs can be caused by an injury, repetitive stress on the lower back or heavy lifting and twisting movements. In most instances, however, a herniated disc is the result of gradual aging and general wear and tear on the spinal discs.
Your risk of a herniated disc includes age, weight and occupation. A herniated disc is most common in middle age, men, and in people with excess body weight (especially the stomach area) and in people with physically demanding jobs.
A physical exam and medical history are the main ways a herniated disc is diagnosed by a herniated disc pain doctor, but to get a more detailed analysis or rule out any other possible conditions, imaging tests like x-rays, CT scans or MRI’s may be recommended by a doctor.
Herniated disc pain doctors have a number of treatment options that help with pain management from herniated discs, which include:
At MAPS, our herniated disc pain management doctors value the importance of an interdisciplinary approach. For those treatments not offered by MAPS, we are able to refer you to other herniated disc pain management doctors.