Every year, millions of Americans suffer from herniated discs, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. But because back pain in general is so common, many of these people don’t know that they have a disc problem, and that means they’re not getting the care they need to prevent more serious problems.
Zaid Malik, MD, and the team at Superior Pain Relief provide patient-centered treatment plans for people with acute and chronic herniated disc problems, as well as helpful guidance on what you can do to prevent herniated discs in the future. Here, we explain how herniated discs happen and what warning signs to look for.
Extending from the base of your skull all the way down to your tailbone, your spine is made up of a series of bones (vertebrae) separated by spongy discs. These discs act as shock absorbers while also helping your spine maintain its flexibility.
Each disc is composed of a tough outer layer surrounding a gel-like interior. When a disc herniates, part of it bulges out between the vertebrae on either side, exposing the disc to pinching pressure or putting pressure on surrounding nerves when your spine moves.
Herniated discs can happen for several reasons, including falls, car accidents, and activities like heavy lifting. But often, a disc herniates because of age-related changes in the structure of the disc or in other structures that support your spine, like your spinal ligaments.
While herniated discs can affect any part of your spine, they’re most common in the neck and lower back, the two most flexible parts of your spine.
Herniated disc symptoms range from mild to severe. As the condition continues without treatment, those symptoms can get a lot worse, eventually interfering with activities like walking, sitting, climbing stairs, or even sleeping.
Getting care at the earliest sign of a herniated disc is important for preventing permanent nerve damage as well as for relieving pain. Signs to watch out for include:
In severe cases, a herniated disc can interfere with bladder or bowel control.
Herniated discs often respond well to conservative treatment, but the key is getting care early and making sure your therapy is customized to your needs. Many people see improvement with a combination of treatments, including:
When these conservative treatments don’t work to provide long-lasting symptom relief, we may recommend a surgical procedure to treat the damaged disc and relieve nerve compression.
Of course, herniated discs are only one possible cause of back or neck pain. To find out what’s causing your symptoms and how we can help you get relief, book an appointment online or over the phone with the Superior Pain Relief team in Spring, Houston, Baytown, Willis, or The Woodlands, Texas, today.