The spine is central to many important functions within the body. It holds us upright, supports our weight, and assists us with a range of movements. When it functions properly, it is easy to forget how essential the spine is to our comfort and mobility. However, the slightest misalignment or pressure within the spine can cause a tremendous amount of pain.
A herniated disc is one of the most common spinal injuries. The Cleveland Clinic reports that a herniation is especially typical in males between ages 35 and 55. Though painful, it is, fortunately, treatable. Dr. Raul Martinez and his team are San Antonio pain specialists who can provide back pain sufferers with lasting treatment options for a herniated disc.
What Is a Herniated Disc?
The spine consists of 24 moveable bones, or vertebrae, that hold the body upright and support a range of movements. Between these vertebrae are flat, round discs that provide shock absorption and prevent the vertebrae from grinding against one another. Each of these discs has a tough outer layer, the annulus fibrosus, which protects a collagen-based gel, the nucleus pulposus.
A herniated disc — also called a ruptured or slipped disc — occurs when pressure from the vertebrae above and below pushes some of the soft nucleus pulposus through a tear in the annulus fibrosus. When this gel leaks back into the spinal canal, it puts pressure on the nerves near the disc. This back disc pain isn’t typically isolated to one part of the body; instead, depending on the location of the slipped disc, it radiates outward toward either the upper body or lower body.
Common Causes of a Herniated Disc
As people age, they more likely to experience a herniation. The Mayo Clinic explains that this is because spinal discs lose some of their water content over time, which leads to disc degeneration. When spinal discs are dehydrated, they become less flexible and more prone to rupturing. Even a twist or strain can cause the outer layer of a disc to tear.
Improper lifting, sudden twisting, and excessive weight can all lead to sufferers needing specialized slip-disc treatment.
Symptoms of a Herniated Disc
Depending on whether the herniated disc occurred in the lower back or upper back, symptoms can include:
- Arm and leg pain
- Numbness or tingling in the legs and feet
- Muscle weakness
- Neck pain
- Neck spasms
If any of these symptoms persist, it is time to look into lasting treatment options for a herniated disc.
Herniated Disc Treatment
The physicians at Texas Pain Specialists in San Antonio are experts at administering a variety of treatment options, ranging from nonsurgical to surgical, in an effort to provide the best back pain relief to patients.
The most common treatments for a herniated disc are conservative, or nonsurgical, and include:
- Pain medications, such as over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or prescribed corticosteroids, anti-depressants, or opioids
- Physical therapy, with a focus on gentle, low-impact stretches, and exercises designed to stabilize the core and lower back
- Hot and cold compresses applied to the affected area
- Corrective back braces
- Spinal injections, like an epidural steroid injection
These remedies seek to reduce inflammation, provide chronic pain management, and strengthen the spine to prevent further injury.
Patients who do not respond well to the above treatments may have to consider surgery. These patients might have symptoms that become more serious over time, or they may experience progressive neurological decline. Though very rare, injury to the nerves of the bladder or bowel as a result of a large disc herniation will likely require immediate surgery.
Back Pain Relief Is in Sight
If you live in San Antonio and are suffering as result of a slipped disc, Dr. Raul Martinez and his associates at Texas Pain Specialists would like you to know that hope is within reach. There are lasting treatment options for a herniated disc available to you.
While other doctors may have dismissed or minimized your pain, our team is dedicated to locating its source and providing you with resources to figure out the best treatment. You are not alone. Texas Pain Specialists is on your side. You deserve comfort and freedom. Our team wants to partner with you to help you regain control of your life, so contact us today.