A herniated disc develops when the soft inner nucleus of the vertebral disc in the spine pushes through the outer wall. The condition usually presents itslef in the lower back, but it can also show in the neck. The herniation can result in a large bulge that can press against nearby nerve roots, causing pain.
A herniated disc is a common injury that can affect any part of the spine. It can be caused by a traumatic injury, improper lifting of a heavy objec or, most often, age-related weakening of the spinal discs (called disc degeneration).
Symptoms of a herniated disc depend upon the location of the disc and severity of the rupture. Some herniated discs cause no symptoms, but typical symptoms include:
- Severe pain
To diagnose the source of back pain, we will take a medical history and conduct a medical exam. Based on our findings, we may use the following diagnostic tools:
- Imaging, such as X-rays, CT scans or an MRI
Physical Therapy may be prescribed for herniated disc. The therapist will help the patient find positions that decrease the referred pain, and also help develop a home program to prevent further damage or recurrence.
Occupational Therapy may be prescribed to provide instruction on body mechanics and postures.
Treatment for a herniated disc depends on the location and severity of the injury. Typical treatments include:
- Pain-relieving medications
- Muscle relaxants
- Epidural injections
If non-surgical treatments do not help, or if the symptoms increase, then surgery may be required.