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Herniated Disc Treatment

By Expert Author: Sana Afrin

Herniated disc is known to be one of the most common back injuries. Herniated disc disease due to a change in the structure of the normal disc. Most of the times, disc disease comes as a result of aging and the degeneration that occurs within the disc. On the other hand, severe trauma can cause a normal disc to herniate.


The severity of the symptoms might vary relying upon the position and also the size of disc herniation. If the heniated disc is pressing on the nerve roots, then it may cause numbness and pain within the legs and the back. However, if it is within the lower back, then it causes back pain referred to as sciatica that spreads to the buttocks and legs. Lower back pain and leg pain might worsen when the patient may sneeze, sit or cough. If herniated disc happens at higher back, then it will result in neck pain which will unfold to the shoulders and higher arms.

Some other common symptoms of herniated disc are tingling, numbness, weakness and muscle spasms. In some rare cases, this condition will result in cauda equina syndrome that is caused as a result of compression of the spinal nerve roots. Emergency surgery is needed to alleviate the pressure and cure cauda equina syndrome; otherwise it will cause permanent weakness or paralysis. If left untreated, herniated disc will result in some complications like increasing pain and numbness in one or each legs, bowel or bladder dysfunction and progressive loss of sensation.


Treatment for herniated disc depends upon the severity of the symptoms. There are surgical as well as non-surgical methods available. Non-surgical ways includes anti-inflammatory medications, pain relievers, physical therapy, electrical stimulation, cold therapy, hydrotherapy, heat therapy, bracing, traction and stretching. The patient will enjoy exercises like dynamic lumbar stabilizing exercises and aerobic exercises with pain-free activities. In some severe cases, surgical choices like minimally invasive and decompression procedures are counseled.

Several times, herniated disc improves with nonsurgical treatment choices. The sole aim with nonsurgical treatment is to reduce irritation of the nerve, relieve the pain and improve the physical activities. Primary treatment is run for back pain relief. You need to limit the activities like prolonged lifting significant objects or bending, sitting, which may worsen the symptoms.

If after non-surgical treatment the patient still has intolerable pain, or if there is evidence of neurological deficit (e.g. weakness in the calf muscles) then doctors may recommend surgery to treat the disc herniation.

Surgical Treatment of Herniated Disc

Nucleoplasty – Nucleoplasty is a newly developed procedure designed to decompress herniated discs. It is sometimes referred by the name percutaneous discectomy. This procedure is minimally invasive, using a super thin catheter to gain access to the bulging disc.

Spine fusion – Spine fusion is rarely necessary when a disc is herniated for the first time. If necessary, the space left by the removed disc may be filled with a bone graft - a small piece of bone usually taken from the patient's hip.The bone graft or a bone substitute is used to join or fuse the vertebrae together. In some cases, specially designed instrumentation (such as rods or screws) may be used to help promote fusion and to add stability to the spine.

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