Why Herniated Disc Pain Can Come and Go

While the discs in your spine are rather small, a damaged one can cause you a lot of pain. A herniated disc is a specialty of experienced orthopaedic surgeon, Gbolahan Okubadejo, MD, FAAOS, and if you experience back pain that interferes with your job or enjoyment of life, Dr. Bo can help.

Recognizing signs of a herniated disc

Between your spinal vertebrae are protective discs that absorb the shock of your movements. As you get older or due to spine trauma, your discs may wear down and become damaged. A herniation occurs when the soft, gel-like center of the disc pushes outward through the tough outer shell.

A herniated disc causes pain when the disc material presses on nearby nerves in your spine. This is why you may sometimes feel severe pain and other times you may feel no pain at all. Certain ways you move and how you hold your body contribute to how much pain you feel and when.

Some of the most common movements that result in herniated disc pain involve walking up the stairs and bending over to pick something up from the floor. You may also notice your back pain gets worse when you stand or sit for extended periods of time.

Pain is generally strongest in the area of your spine where the disc is located, but it can also radiate down into your hips and legs or up into your neck and through your arms. You might also experience muscle tingling, weakness, and numbness due to the nerve compression of a herniated disc.

Therapeutic treatments for herniated disc pain

For some, a herniated disc can heal on its own with plenty of rest and over-the-counter anti-inflammatories. But many people find their pain only gets worse as the disc breaks down even further. You may eventually become limited in what physical activities you can do and find that your pain becomes persistent.

When off-the-shelf medications can no longer control your pain, Dr. Bo can customize a treatment plan to improve your comfort and promote the healing of your damaged disc.

Available treatment options may include:

Physical therapy

Physical therapy can help stretch the muscles that support your spine to naturally relieve pressure from a herniated disc on surrounding nerves. 

Dr. Bo can refer you to a physical therapist to learn exercises you can do during your therapy sessions and at home to treat herniated disc pain.

Epidural steroid injections

Epidural steroid injections deliver steroids and anesthetic medications directly into the epidural space of your spine. The medications reduce inflammation and disrupt the pain signals that travel to your brain, providing you with long-lasting relief of herniated disc pain.

Spine surgery

A last resort for treating chronic pain from a herniated disc is spine surgery. The goal of surgery is to remove part or all of the damaged disc to stop nerve compression.

You may also need a spinal fusion, a procedure to fuse one or more of your vertebrae into a solid piece of bone to stabilize your spine. Fusion surgery is often necessary if Dr. Bo must remove the entire disc because of severe damage.

You don’t have to suffer with chronic back pain from a herniated disc any longer. You can schedule a diagnostic evaluation with Dr. Bo by calling The Institute for Comprehensive Spine Care or by requesting an appointment online today. 

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