What Is a Herniated Disc? | What Are Your Treatment Options?
If you’re experiencing pain or numbness on one side of your body, particularly pain that gets worse at night or when you repeat certain movements, there’s a good chance you have a herniated (or slipped) disc. Your spine contains a number of bones, called vertebrae, that are stacked on top of one another. Your vertebrae are cushioned by discs that keep them from rubbing together. Each disc has a soft innerarea and a tougher outer ring. When that outer ring is compromised, either by injury, weakness, or natural wear and tear, the inner part of the disc can protrude, causing pain and discomfort. When that happens, it’s commonly referred to as a herniated, or slipped, disc.
Recognizing That You Have a Herniated Disc
Because your vertebrae extend from your neck to the base of your spine, you can experience a herniated disc anywhere, but the most common area is in your lower back. When the inner substance of the disc protrudes, it typically puts pressure on nearby muscles and nerves, which can cause a variety of symptoms:
- Unexplained weakness in muscles
- Pain when walking, sitting, standing, or lying down
- Numbness on one side of the body
- Pain that radiates into your arms or legs
- Burning, tingling, or aching sensations near the herniated disc
Treatment Options for a Herniated Disc
Depending on the severity of the hernia, your doctor may prescribe different treatments. For minor conditions, non-invasive options may be sufficient, including medications for pain or inflammation. Your doctor also may recommend physical therapy to strengthen your muscles, or suggest that you not engage in certain activities. If your pain is severe, your physician may order an epidural steroid or other pain injection. If that fails to provide relief, you may need a surgical procedure. A lumbar microdiscectomy can be performed to remove the herniated part of the disk, as well as any fragments that are putting pressure on the spinal nerve.