How to Know If you Have a Herniated Disc

A herniated disc is a painful condition that affects your spine’s range of motion and your ability to stay active.

As a spine specialist, Gbolahan Okubadejo, MD, FAAOS understands how disruptive any spine pain can be to your normal routine. To quickly confirm your back pain or neck pain is the result of a herniated disc, Dr. Bo offers on-site diagnostic testing services. He can also help you manage your herniated disc symptoms and prevent a worsening of your condition.

What to know about a herniated disc

Within your spine are protective discs that sit between your vertebrae. The main responsibility of these discs is to absorb the shock of your movements. Each disc is made of a hard outer shell with a soft, gel-like center, which keeps the disc flexible.

As you get older, your spine changes and the discs can wear out. An unhealthy disc can break down and push the gel center outward, causing a disc herniation. The herniated disc can then press on nearby spinal nerves, triggering a variety of symptoms that worsen over time.

Other common causes of a herniated disc include:

You might also be at increased risk for a herniated disc if you have a manual labor job that requires repetitive heavy lifting or frequent twisting or bending.

Warning signs of a herniated disc

When you have a herniated disc in your upper spine, it can lead to chronic neck pain and a loss of range of motion in your neck. You might also have pain that radiates down into your shoulders and arms.

If a herniated disc occurs in your lower spine, you might experience symptoms like back pain and tingling and weakness in your legs.

Many people with a herniated disc notice their pain worsens when sitting down because of the excess pressure on the spine. You might also experience pain when lifting heavy objects or making sudden moves like a cough or a sneeze.

Over time, your pain can worsen until you’re no longer able to rest or walk without pain. To prevent disability, Dr. Bo and our team at The Institute for Comprehensive Spine Care provide conservative therapies customized to your needs.

Treatment options for a herniated disc

Initially, the goal of treating a herniated disc is to relieve your pain and other symptoms, so you can enjoy a higher quality of life and prevent the need for surgery.

Dr. Bo might recommend epidural steroid injections to increase your comfort. The steroid medications contained in the injections help reduce chronic inflammation around your herniated disc. The injections can also contain an anesthetic to effectively relieve pain.

Another option for treating a herniated disc is physical therapy. After you receive a steroid injection to treat your pain, Dr. Bo can refer you to a physical therapist. They will teach you exercises that target your spine to strengthen the muscles that support it.

If these therapies aren’t enough to treat your herniated disc pain, Dr. Bo can qualify you for surgery. The purpose of surgery is to remove the damaged portion of your disc that’s pressing on nearby nerves. Dr. Bo can also remove the entire disc and perform a spinal fusion surgery to restabilize your spine during spine surgery.

Find out more about your options for treating a herniated disc by calling The Institute for Comprehensive Spine Care or by booking a consultation online today. 

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