A herniated disc is a condition that affects the gel-like cushioning sections of your spinal column. Each disc has a tough exterior with a soft center, and when the disc herniates or ruptures, the soft center can push through the outer layer.
There are several factors that can cause the rupturing of a disc. In many cases, the herniated disc is the result of the natural aging process. Wear-and-tear on the discs and degenerative diseases can cause the discs to lose water, making them more susceptible to tears and ruptures, even with minimal movement.
Injuries and traumas, such as a car accident or a fall, can also cause disc damage. Other risk factors for developing a herniated disc include:
If you lift or move heavy objects without using the proper safety techniques, you may also be at risk for herniating one or more discs.
Dr. Reeves first reviews your medical history and symptoms. He performs a physical examination of your back, checking for tenderness and assessing your flexibility.
Dr. Reeves may order imaging tests, such as:
He may also use a myelogram test. In this test, dye injected into your spinal fluid can show pressure on your spinal nerves during an X-ray.
Nerve conduction studies are also available to measure the electrical impulses of your nerves, which can determine areas of nerve damage in your spine.
Initially, Dr. Reeves may suggest using over-the-counter or prescription medications to control pain and reduce any swelling. He may also suggest epidural steroid injections to reduce inflammation in the surrounding tissue.
If physical therapy and medications are not effective in relieving herniated disc symptoms, Dr. Reeves may recommend minimally invasive disc replacement surgery.