Back pain can arise from many causes, including a bulging or herniated disc. The vertebrae of your spine are cushioned by round flat discs with a tough outer layer called the annulus and a jellylike center called the nucleus. The discs, located between the vertebrae, serve as shock absorbers and prevent the bones from rubbing against each other. Sometimes the outer layer of a disc tears or ruptures, causing the center to push out into the spinal canal.
A herniated disc does not always cause pain, but if the bulging disc presses against a nerve, pain can range from mild to debilitating. Herniated discs can happen anywhere along the spine, but they most often occur in either the low back or neck region.
Symptoms of a herniated disc vary, depending on the location. In the lower back, sciatica is the most common symptom, marked by a sharp or shooting pain that may travel down one side of the low back, into the buttock and down the leg, caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve.
Other symptoms in the low back include:
A herniated disc in the neck region can cause pain in the upper back and neck that sometimes shoots down the arm.
Other symptoms in the neck include:
Many factors can contribute to a bulging disc. While the condition can be brought on by trauma, it is more often the result of age-related disc degeneration.
Other causes include:
Smokers are at a higher risk of disc herniation due to decreased circulation that restricts the supply of nutrients and oxygen to the structures of the spine.
Many spinal disorders can mimic symptoms of herniated disc pain, including pain arising from the sacroiliac or facet joints. Therefore, a clinical exam is not always sufficient to accurately diagnose a herniated disc.
At NYDNR, we use real-time diagnostic ultrasound to view the spine and nerves. Ultrasound enables us to view inflammation, along with damage to soft tissues and cartilage. Once a herniated disc has been diagnosed, we are then able to devise an individualized treatment plan.
Traditional treatment for a herniated disc focuses on managing pain and reducing inflammation. Rest, NSAIDs, muscle relaxants and steroid injections are standard protocol. MRI is rarely necessary, and surgery has been shown to be of limited benefit. While pain management is important, it does not get at the underlying cause of herniated disc pain or correct it to prevent future episodes.
The back pain specialists at NYDNR use a combination of innovative, clinically proven approaches to treat herniated disc pain and restore function. Our goal is to correct gait, posture and mechanical issues that contribute to disc herniation.
Our treatment approaches may include:
Improve posture, rebalance muscles and improve deep spinal stability with exercises specifically designed to promote spinal health and stability.
This unique and effective treatment method restores innate developmental movement patterns that promote healthy musculoskeletal alignment and function, reducing pressure on the spinal discs.
Discs are sometimes affected by muscle tension or spasm that contributes to changes in surrounding structures. Dry needling is an increasingly popular treatment method that disrupts dysfunctional neuromuscular activity, relaxing the muscles and relieving pain.
Herniated disc pain should not be taken lightly, as it can lead to further spinal degeneration and reduced mobility.
Some individuals are anatomically predisposed to disc herniation, but in most cases the problem arises from behavioral lifestyle conditions.
If you suspect you have a herniated disc, avoid prolonged sitting and lifting heavy weights. Do not seek treatment involving high velocity spinal manipulation.
Disc pain sometimes mimics other syndromes like sacroiliac joint dysfunction, pain originating from the vertebral facet joints and muscular pain. Real-time diagnostic ultrasound can help your therapist confirm disc herniation and pinpoint the exact location at which the nerve is compressed. Misdiagnosis can lead to further damage if the wrong treatment strategy is employed.
The treatment plan should be based on health history, clinical assessment and ultrasound imaging. Disc problems need to be treated on a case-by-case basis, under the supervision of an experienced clinician.
At NYDNR, we use innovative approaches based on clinical evidence of their effectiveness for treated herniated disc pain.
Some of our treatment methods include:
Our back pain specialists provide individualized treatment based on accurate diagnosis.