Vertebral discs are rubbery pads that sit between the vertebrae. Northshore spine surgeon, Dr. K. Samer Shamieh, tells us to think of a disc like a jelly doughnut. A disc serves as a shock absorber for the spine. When a vertebral disc ruptures, its soft center can press against the spinal cord and nerve roots, causing pain. A herniated disc can happen in any portion of the spine, but are most common in the cervical spine and the lumbar spine.
Herniated discs occur most often in the lumbar spine. A herniated lumbar disc creates pain and numbness in the buttock and down the leg, commonly known as sciatica. Sciatica may also be referred to by its main medical term, radiculopathy.
- Dull or throbbing lower back pain
- Lower back stiffness and/or muscle spasms
- Leg pain radiating along the path of the large sciatic nerve in back of the leg
- Searing, radiating, sharp, or electric pain in one leg
- Numbness, weakness, and/or tingling in the leg, foot, and/or toes
- Drop foot – difficulty lifting the foot when walking or standing on the ball of the foot
- Pain following sitting or standing for a long time
- Intense leg pain when bending forward at the waist
A loss of bladder or bowel control, numbness in the saddle area, and/or weakness in both legs are signs of a rare but serious condition called cauda equina syndrome. Pressure and swelling of the nerves at the end of the spinal column can lead to paralysis and other permanent impairments if treatment is delayed.
Northshore surgeons, Dr. K. Samer Shamieh, Dr. Justin L. Owen and Dr. Jeremy James are conservative, minimally-invasive spine surgeons. At DISC of Louisiana we will work with you to treat a vertebral compression fracture non-surgically first. Treatment normally starts with rest and pain medications, followed by physical therapy, and then nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, narcotics and muscle relaxers. Exercise and proper diet are important for managing the pain, especially among overweight patients. Steroid injections administered to the back of the herniated disc can decrease pain and swelling for several months.
If nothing else works, a minimally invasive surgery may be best for you:
Potential Minimally Invasive Back Procedures
Learn More about our Minimally Invasive Techniques
DISC of Louisiana offers spinal procedures using minimally invasive techniques. It means smaller incisions, sometimes less than an inch, that is often covered with a band-aid. The minimally invasive spine surgeon inserts special surgical instruments through the tiny incisions to access the damaged disc. Unlike traditional “open” spine surgery, entry and repair to the damaged disc or vertebrae is achieved without harming nearby muscles and tissues. Less muscle and tissue damage results in less pain and a faster recovery. Click here to learn more.
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