Herniated Discs

Herniated Disc Overview

Discs are shock absorbers that lie between adjacent vertebrae. A herniated disc is a disc that protrudes into the spinal canal and pinches a spinal nerve root. A herniated disc and accompanying symptoms do not improve on their own. An appointment with a Carolina Orthopaedic and Neurosurgical Associates’ (CONA) should be made as soon as symptoms present.

Symptoms & Causes

Herniated disc symptoms include:

  • Burning pain
  • Extremity numbness, tingling or weakness
  • Neck or back pain
  • Neck or back weakness

Common herniated disc causes include:

  • Age-related disc degeneration
  • Osteoarthritis

Herniated disc risk factors include:

  • Excess body weight
  • Sports, activities

Common Treatments:

Nonsurgical treatment options may relieve herniated disc symptoms. After a thorough evaluation, a CONA shoulder specialist may recommend:

  • Activity modification (slowing down or stopping activities and movements that cause pain)
  • A back brace
  • A soft collar neck brace
  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs)
  • Physical therapy
  • Rest and ice

Minimally invasive surgery may be recommended to treat a severely herniated disc. A CONA specialist (1) removes pieces of the herniated disc that pinch the nerve root or (2) removes the herniated disc and fuses adjacent spinal vertebrae.

Diagnosis:

A CONA specialist:

  • Asks important questions about the patient’s condition and symptoms
  • Obtains a complete medical history
  • Performs thorough neurological and physical examinations
  • Orders and analyzes x-rays and an MRI
  • Makes an accurate diagnosis

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