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Do you feel muscle weakness and tingling in the back of your legs? Pain in your upper or lower back? If so, you may have a herniated disc. This condition can be fairly common, especially for those between the ages of 30 and 50. If you are concerned that you may be dealing with a herniated disc or another condition of the spine, EmergeOrtho’s Back, Neck, & Spine Team will devise a personalized treatment plan to help you Emerge Stronger. Healthier. Better.

What Causes a Herniated Disc?

When discussing herniated discs, we are referring to the rubbery cushion that provides padding between the bones of the back, called vertebrae. These discs act as shock absorbers. As we age, the discs naturally become less flexible and more brittle. A fall, injury, or heavy strain can cause these discs to rupture and place pressure on the nerves that branch out from the spinal cord, resulting in a herniated disc.

When a herniated disc occurs in the neck or “cervical spine,” it is often referred to as cervical radiculopathy and may result in the following symptoms:

An elderly gentleman in a checkered shirt bends to the side in pain from a herniated disc.

  • Pain that radiates down the arm to the hand or fingers
  • Numbness or tingling in the neck, shoulder, or arm
  • Pain in the neck that increases with movement and in certain positions

When a herniated disc is identified in the lower back or “lumbar spine,” it may produce symptoms such as:

  • Pain
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Weakness in the back and/or legs and feet
  • A combination of symptoms listed above that radiate down from the lower back to the buttocks

In addition to the aging process that ultimately leads to degeneration of the discs, the additional risk factors that can lead to a herniated disc include:

  • Lifting heavy items using incorrect posture and form
  • Smoking
  • Carrying excessive body weight
  • Applying extreme and sudden pressure to the spine
  • Repeating strenuous activity that impacts the spine

How to Treat a Herniated Disc

EmergeOrtho physicians always consider nonsurgical treatment options first. In most cases, herniated discs can be successfully resolved with conservative treatment methods.

Herniated disc treatment non-surgical methods include:

  • Medication
    Your orthopedic physician may suggest taking a combination of over-the-counter pain medication — non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and muscle relaxers to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Injections
    Injection treatments can be used to relieve inflammation of the pinched nerves.
  • Physical Therapy
    At EmergeOrtho we have an entire team of expertly trained and practiced physical therapists who routinely create personalized exercise plans to alleviate herniated disc symptoms.
  • Cold Compress
    Applying a cold compress for up to 20 minutes a session, several times a day may help to ease discomfort.
  • Rest
    Obtaining proper rest will help decrease uncomfortable side effects and help encourage recovery.

If a herniated disc diagnosis is more severe, or non-operative solutions have not been successful in addressing pain, surgical intervention may be recommended.

Herniated disc surgery, such as a lumbar microdiscectomy is a minimally invasive procedure, in which the herniated disc is removed. Often patients can begin walking the day after this type of surgery! Or, your orthopedic spine surgeon may suggest a spinal decompression surgical approach.

No matter what treatment pathway you receive, the EmergeOrtho goal is to help all patients experience the quality of life they deserve. That’s why EmergeOrtho takes a team approach to treatment. Our experienced board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic physicians work closely with our entire health team to treat your back, neck and spine pain to get you back to your daily activities.

There is no need to wait for relief from neck and back pain and discomfort. Request a visit now to Emerge Stronger. Healthier. Better.

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