A herniated disc is a potentially painful medical problem that occurs when the discs found between the vertebrae in the spine slip out of place. The condition develops when the inner, jelly-like core of the disc ruptures, breaking through the hard exterior. Herniated disc are also sometimes called slipped or ruptured discs.
Herniated discs can be very painful, although it is also possible for there to be no symptoms at all. Pain and other symptoms such as numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness arise because the slipped disc irritates a nearby nerve. Herniated discs most often occur in the lower back. Herniated discs in this area typically manifest in symptoms in the legs, hips, and feet. Herniated discs in the neck usually cause symptoms in the arms.
Treatment For a Herniated Disc
There are a variety of treatments for herniated discs. While severe cases might require surgery, fortunately, more conservative treatment options are usually effective. A variety of medications are available to treat herniated discs, including OTC pain medications, muscle relaxers, and cortisone injections. Opioids can be prescribed if pain persists.
Lifestyle modification can also be employed to treat herniated discs. Regular exercise, losing weight, and maintaining proper posture can all help relieve herniated disc symptoms. Physical therapists can teach patients specific exercises and stretches to practice. Massage can be used to relieve pain as well.
How a Pain Management Specialist Can Help
A pain management specialist is a doctor who focuses on diagnosing and treating pain. A pain management specialist will help a patient deal with their herniated disc pain, helping avoid the necessity of more serious treatment. A pain management specialist can provide most of the treatments described above, including physical therapy and medications.
How an Orthopedic Doctor Can Help
An orthopedic doctor is a doctor that focuses on the health and diseases of the musculoskeletal system. The musculoskeletal system includes bones and muscles, as well as tendons, ligaments, joints, and nerves. An orthopedic doctor’s scope includes herniated discs. Some orthopedists specialize in the spine, further adding to their expertise in this area.
If more conservative treatment options for a herniated disc prove ineffective over time, surgery is the next step. Herniated disc surgery is performed by either an orthopedic doctor or a neurosurgeon. Generally, the surgeon will simply remove the portion of the disc that has bulged out of place. Sometimes, the entire disc may need to be removed, and the vertebrae fused together.
At their worst, herniated discs can certainly cause a lot of pain. Even a milder herniated disc is still very scary. The thought of something being wrong with their spine is terrifying for many people. Fortunately, effective treatments for herniated discs do exist, and most cases are resolved relatively quickly and easily. Even those that are not can still be effectively treated with surgery.
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