Treatment for Your Herniated Disc

Treatment for Your Herniated Disc

Herniated discs are a common cause of back pain. Also called a slipped or ruptured disc, herniated discs occur when the intervertebral discs that cushion the bones of your spine break down from injury or age-related changes, and the jelly-like center bulges out. 

When this happens, the disc can push against or irritate structures in the spinal column, causing pain. The spinal canal has limited space, so displacement of an intervertebral disc can press against nerves, which send pain signals to the brain. 

When back pain strikes, it’s wise to turn to a pain management specialist for help. Here at the Spine & Pain Institute of Florida, Navdeep Jassal, MD, helps people in Lakeland manage pain so you can continue to do the things you enjoy. If Dr. Jassal determines that you have a herniated disc, treatment options are available to help you get relief. 

How did I get a herniated disc?

A herniated disc can occur in any area of the spine, but they’re more common in the lower back (lumbar spine). Straining your back or a sudden injury to your spine can cause a herniated disc. However, age-related changes are often the underlying factor. 

With age, intervertebral discs can dry out, crack, and weaken. When this happens, even a minor strain can cause the jelly-like center of the disc to rupture through the normally tough outer structure. 

Herniated disc symptoms

Symptoms of a herniated disc vary significantly depending on factors such as the size and position of the herniation and whether or not the disc is compressing a nerve. Low back pain is a common symptom. If the nerve is pressing against a nerve, you may experience tingling, numbness, or weakness in the area the affected nerve serves. 

A herniated disc can cause sciatica, which is irritation of the sciatic nerve. This can result in pain that radiates through the buttock and travels down the leg. It most often affects one side and may feel like an electric-shock sensation. 

Sometimes a herniated disc occurs in the neck (cervical spine). If the disc compresses a nerve in the neck, it can cause a sharp pain between the shoulder blades or pain that radiates down the arm, as well as neck pain. 

Treatment options for herniated disc

Self-care measures that include rest and anti-inflammatory medication are often the first line of treatment for a herniated disc. If symptoms continue, or if your pain is moderate to severe, Dr. Jassal can offer a variety of other nonsurgical approaches.

Dr. Jassal offers individualized herniated disc treatment. The following are some of the treatments used to address back pain caused by a herniated disc. 

Muscle relaxants

If a muscle spasm is contributing to your back pain, Dr. Jassal may recommend a prescription muscle relaxant to calm the affected muscles and ease pain. Muscle relaxants are a temporary measure. After a couple of weeks, pain from muscle spasms tends to resolve on its own. 

Corticosteroid injections

Corticosteroids have powerful anti-inflammatory properties and can help relieve herniated disc pain. To treat back pain, corticosteroids can be injected into the space surrounding the spinal cord using X-ray guidance for precise placement. 

A corticosteroid injection may provide herniated disc pain relief for several weeks to months. Corticosteroids are often combined with physical therapy. Strengthening the core muscles can ease pain from a herniated disc. 

Medial branch blocks

Medial branch nerves are small nerves that travel outside of the facet joints that connect your spine. If facet joint problems are the cause of the herniated disc, Dr. Jassal may recommend a medial branch block, which is used as a diagnostic and treatment procedure. 

As a diagnostic procedure, an anesthetic is injected near the nerves connected to a specific facet joint. If you experience significant pain relief as a result, then a facet joint problem is determined to be the cause of the back pain. 

When this is the case, Dr. Jassal can block the nerves connected to the facet joint from transmitting pain signals to the brain, providing relief that can last 6-18 months on average.

Radiofrequency ablation

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a short procedure that can have a significant impact on your pain. The procedure involves delivering RFA energy to heat targeted nerves, which disables the nerve tissue from transmitting pain signals. 

As nerve tissue slowly grows back, the pain may return. The procedure can be repeated to provide continued pain relief. A single RFA treatment can provide pain relief for 6-12 months. 

For patients dealing with lower back pain, relief can mean getting back to enjoying your life again. If you’re struggling with pain from a herniated disc, schedule a visit with Dr. Jassal for a comprehensive evaluation. Book today by calling or requesting an appointment using our web form here on our website. Don’t let back pain stop you from doing the things you enjoy.

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