As your body’s main structural support, your spine plays a defining role in your ability to move and function with ease. If one of your intervertebral discs happens to rupture, however, it can irritate nearby nerves and cause pain in your back, neck, or throughout your body. At The Spine Institute of Southeast Texas in Pearland, Houston, and Lake Jackson, Texas, Dr. Thomas Jones II offers a full range of treatment solutions, including microdiscectomy surgery, for patients with herniated discs. To learn more, call or schedule an appointment online today.
Your discs sit between the vertebrae in your spine, acting as shock-absorbing cushions on either end of each bone. Every disc has a tough outer layer and a soft interior.
The main role of a disc’s rubbery outer shell, or annulus fibrosus, is to help facilitate its range of motion. A disc’s soft interior, or nucleus pulposus, is what makes it an excellent shock absorber.
When a disc’s soft interior fibers tear, its spongy nuclear material travels toward its rubbery exterior. This can make a disc’s outer wall begin to protrude, or bulge. When a bulging disc is put under enough pressure, it can herniate, or rupture.
Herniated discs often occur in either the lumbar spine (lower back) or the cervical spine (neck).
The main source of pain caused by a herniated disc comes from how its leaked material affects the nearby nerves rooted in your spinal column. Because spinal nerves branch out into various parts of your body, you may feel pain sensations in places that may not initially seem to be related to a problem in your spine.
A herniated disc in your lumbar spine, for example, may cause you to experience shooting pain in your buttocks, thigh, or calf. A herniated disc in your neck, on the other hand, may lead to searing or persistent pain in your shoulder or arm.
To diagnose a herniated disc and pinpoint the exact source of your pain, Dr. Jones reviews your medical history and symptoms and performs a thorough physical exam. A conclusive diagnosis usually requires a diagnostic imaging test, such as an MRI or CT scan.
Managing the pain caused by herniated discs may initially include having epidural steroid injections into or near your spine. These injections are done with the aid of X-ray technology to help ensure the injection goes where it’s most needed.
Once inflammation is reduced and your pain has subsided, an individualized physical therapy program can provide long-term pain relief by helping you build strength, improve flexibility, and restore range of motion.
If a conservative treatment approach doesn’t alleviate your pain, you may be a candidate for surgery. Dr. Jones specializes in minimally invasive microdiscectomy surgery, an advanced procedure that removes a portion of the herniated disc to relieve pressure on nearby spinal nerves.
To learn more about how Dr. Jones treats herniated discs, call The Spine Institute of Southeast Texas today or schedule an appointment online.