What is a Herniated Disc?

Back Pain

A slipped, ruptured, or herniated disc is a spine problem that primarily affects adults in their 30s and 40s who repeatedly or improperly lift heavy objects. Read on to learn what causes herniated discs and how they can be treated:

Anatomy
The spine is comprised of many small bones known as vertebrae, that are stacked on top of one another. To enable movement, these vertebrae are separated by discs made up of a jellylike substance surrounded by a tough outer membrane. Occasionally, due to age, trauma, or back strain, the outer layer of the disc may tear, causing the soft inner portion to spill out and put pressure on the spinal nerves.

Symptoms
Pain is a common symptom of a herniated disc , with the intensity varying according to the severity of the condition. A disc herniation in the lower back may cause sciatica, manifesting with pain or numbness that radiates into the buttocks and down the leg. If the ruptured disc is in the cervical spine, symptoms may involve pain in the neck, upper back, or arms, as well as tingling or numbness in one or both arms.

Treatment
Home remedies for a herniated disc include over-the-counter pain relievers, bed rest, massage, and hot or cold packs. Your doctor may also recommend physical therapy, traction, or prescription pain medication. If your condition does not respond to these conservative measures, steroidal injections or a minimally-invasive procedure to remove the problematic disc material may be indicated. In extreme cases, surgery to remove the excess disc tissue or sculpt the vertebrae may be necessary.

Find out how to minimize your risk of suffering a herniated disc or schedule an appointment with a neurologist by calling West Hills Hospital & Medical Center at (818) 676-4000. We offer minimally-invasive spine care services to relieve chronic pain and improve the outcomes of trauma patients.

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