Pressing pain in the back may be more than a pulled muscle or a lingering injury that doesn’t seem to be healing. Instead, it could be what’s called a herniated disc. The spine is made of vertebrae; each of the vertebrae has a disc that absorbs shocks to the body. These discs can become herniated or ruptured from injury or stress in the spinal area and it may also happen due to the aging process. There are spinal nerves that can be impacted by the rupturing and cause pain. If your symptoms match any of all of these listed, it’s time to get to a specialist like Dr. Brandon Orsino in Winter Park who knows how to care for this condition.
Symptoms of a herniated disc match some that occur with most major back problems. The disc is located in the lumbar spine and part of the body could produce pain, numbness, and weakness. Matching the symptoms with the portions affected is a good clue as to what is going on. For instance, if the sciatic nerve is pressed by a herniated disc, pain can be in the leg or foot on one side. The pain from a disc in the neck can affect the neck, but go out into the shoulder area. Pain from the disc in the neck might radiate to the arm and into the fingers.
An MRI is used to make a diagnosis; this medical device makes a 3D image of the spine and nerves to provide a better perspective. X-rays are sometimes used in conjunction with an MRI to present a complete picture of the area. A myelogram is a test done with an injectable dye; after the dye is injected in the spinal cord, a better picture can be seen of the areas affected by the disc. The dye poses no danger to patients, but anyone who takes it should let their doctor, as well as the testing staff, know of any medical issues as well as potential pregnancies.
There are surgical and non-surgical options to treat a herniated disc. First, a doctor will try non-surgical options to relieve the problem, with most of the solutions fairly easy to do at home. The patient will have to cut back on activities for a certain amount of time and this can be from a few days to a few weeks. Medication can be used to help inflammation with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory choices for cases that are mild. An epidural steroid injection can be shot directly into the spine. A physical therapist may be brought in by the doctor to help. They will use treatments like ice and heat, traction, and exercises that promote stretching.
Surgery may be an option to find relief if all else fails. Lumbar spine surgery helps with pain in the legs. In this procedure, the disc is removed and the spine is fused. With cervical spine surgery, the disc is removed with no additional steps necessary. If it is an anterior surgery of the neck, the spine needs to be stabilized with a plate and screws. For posterior surgery, the neck does not need to be fused.