What is a Herniated Disc?
Located between the bones, or vertebrae of the spine is an intervertebral disc. These discs provide support and flexibility within the spine. However, if these discs become damaged they can tear or move out of place and become herniated. A herniated disc is a common condition that may occur as a result of gradual wear and tear on the disc or from an injury to the spine that cracks or tears the disc and causes it to bulge or break open. A herniated disc, also known as a ruptured or slipped disc, typically occurs in the lumbar region of the back and is one of the most common causes of back pain. Cervical discs can also become herniated which results in neck and shoulder pain.
Symptoms of a Ruptured Disc
Patients with a herniated disc may experience pain, numbness, and weakness in the affected area as the disc presses on the nearby nerve roots. The location of the affected disc determines the location of the pain. For example, a herniated disc in the lower back may cause pain through the buttock and down the leg, a condition known as sciatica.
Pain from a herniated disc may be worse during activity and then get better during rest. Anything that puts pressure on the nerve, such as coughing sneezing, sitting or bending forward, can cause pain to worsen. If the herniated disc does not touch any nerves, patients may not experience any pain from this condition.
What Causes a Slipped Disc?
As patients age, natural wear occurs to the discs and there is a loss of flexibility. In addition to aging, the following can cause a herniated disc.
- Additional stress
- Heavy lifting
- Sudden traumatic injury
Diagnosing a Herniated Disc
Dr. Lipani can diagnose a herniated disc through a combination of methods including image testing such as an MRI. Additionally, he will perform a physical examination including checking reflexes, posture, and muscle strength. After testing, Dr. Lipani will also ask you questions about your symptoms in order to rule out other conditions.
Herniated Disc Treatment
Treatment for a herniated disc depends on the location and severity of the condition. In many cases, symptoms will improve on their own within a few weeks or months. Patients should rest, use a heating pad and perform therapeutic exercises in order to manage pain, in addition to taking pain medication prescribed by your doctor. Improving your posture may also be effective in relieving pain and helping a herniated disc heal.
For more severe cases patients may require surgery to treat a herniated disc. Surgery is usually reserved for patients whose pain does not improve over the course of a few months. There are a number of surgical options Dr. Lipani can discuss with you including:
- Spinal fusion
“Princeton Neurological Surgery is truly unbelievable!! The office staff is tremendous – they are always available and return calls promptly. Kathy the office manager goes out of her way to assist you. Getting an appointment is super easy and you are seen promptly. Dr. Lipani takes his time and listens – never rushed! The office staff will follow up and stay in touch with you even after appointments or procedures. We drive almost an hour from Edison to the office simply because of Dr. Lipani and his team. I recommend Princeton Neurological Surgery to anyone who is starting the process of finding a doctor or someone who is not happy or needs a second opinion.”
Spinal Surgery at Princeton Neurological Surgery
At Princeton Neurological Surgery, Dr. Lipani is a board certified fellowship trained spine surgeon and specialist in treatment for a herniated disc in New Jersey. Dr. Lipani treats patients from around the world as well as locally from Princeton, New Brunswick, Hopewell, Pennington and communities throughout Somerset, Middlesex, Ocean, Burlington, Monmouth and Mercer Counties for all forms of spinal conditions such as disc herniation, spinal stenosis, cervical myelopathy, degenerative disc disease and others. We use approaches including the latest in minimally invasive procedures, tailored to the needs of each patient.