A herniated disc is a painful and debilitating condition that can occur in any part of the spine, but is typically seen in the neck (cervical) and lower back (lumbar) region. Also called slipped disc or ruptured disc, the condition develops when one of the discs that cushion the vertebrae becomes injured or moves out of position and presses on adjacent nerves. It is usually seen in people aged 35 to 55 years and more commonly in men than in women. The good news is that, in most cases, herniated disc pain can be effectively treated with nonsurgical treatments. Multispecialty pain management centers in Brooklyn, NYC, offer a wide variety of nonsurgical modalities to relieve herniated disc pain and improve mobility.
Disc herniation is often the result of a gradual, aging-related wear and tear (known as disc degeneration). Aging causes the spinal discs to lose water content which makes them less flexible and more prone to rupture even with a minor strain or twist. Other risk factors for disc herniation include heavy/repetitive movements, obesity, sudden strain from improper lifting or from twisting violently, overuse injury, and genetics.
Signs and Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of disc herniation vary widely depending on the location of the damaged disc and the extent of its herniation. Some of the common signs and symptoms include –
- Low back pain that gets worse when you sit, cough or sneeze
- Neck pain
- Arm or leg pain
- Numbness or tingling
- Unexplained muscle weakness
- Pain with movements such as bending or twisting
- Pain that worsens after standing or sitting
Diagnosis generally begins with a detailed physical exam of your back for tenderness. A neurological exam will also be conducted to check muscle strength, reflexes, walking ability and the ability to feel light touches, pinpricks or vibration. Diagnositc imaging tests such as X-ray, MRI scan (Magnetic resonance imaging), and CT scan (computerized tomography) may be used to identify the location and extent of the herniation.
The treatment methods available in multispecialty healthcare center comprise non-invasive options such as physical therapy exercises, chiropractic care, TENS, nerve block injections, cold compression therapy, and pain medications.
- Physical therapy – Physical therapy exercises include gentle stretching and strengthening exercises that help improve joint flexibility, reduce muscle spasm, and allow the damaged tendons to heal more quickly.
- Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) – TENS uses low voltage electric stimulation that interacts with the sensory nervous system to address pain.
- Game Ready cold compression therapy – This computer-controlled modality combines cold therapy and intermittent active compression for all types of musculoskeletal injuries and pain.
- Nerve block injections – These are injected directly into the troubled nerve areas to reduce inflammation and pain.
- Medications – Pain medications include – analgesics, narcotic medications (like Codeine, an oxycodone-acetaminophen combination), NSAIDs (such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen) and muscle relaxants.
- Chiropractic care – Chiropractic treatment can reduce pain and inflammation and strengthen the muscles around the joints.
Herniated discs can be painful, but the right treatment can help relieve symptoms. Most people recover within 4-6 weeks. If your pain symptoms do not subside within six weeks or if the condition affects your muscle function, surgery may be recommended to remove the damaged or protruding portion of the disc.