HERNIATED DISC

Anyone who has ever been in an accident and injured their back will be familiar with the term “Herniated Disc”

WHAT IS A DISC ?

The human spine is made us of a series of vertebrae which provides the structural support for the spine. The spine has 7 vertebrae in the neck (cervical vertebrae), 12 vertebrae in the mid back (thoracic vertebrae), and 5 vertebrae in the lower back (Lumbar vertebrae).  In between all the vertebrae are DISCS. The discs are jelly like substance that acts a cushion or shock absorber between the vertebrae, allowing for free flowing movement of the spine. Healthy discs provide  pain free movement for all of us.

WHAT IS A HERNIATED DISC ?

Herniated discs can be caused by age and\or traumatic injury. What happens with an injury is the disc can rupture (herniate) or move outside of its normal position between the vertebrae. A herniated disc can be very painful & can greatly restrict free flowing movement. When a disc herniates it basically leaves the vertebrae with out any protection or without any shock absorbers so any movement can be potentially painful.

SYMPTOMS OF A HERNIATED DISC:

The symptoms of a herniated disc depend on how big the herniation is, where the herniation is, and whether or not there is any impingement on exiting nerve roots.  However, it is safe to say that any herniation can cause pain locally at the herniation spot, and cause pain at the adjacent areas related to the vertebrae area.

If a disc herniation is large enough, the herniated disc tissue can press (impinge) on the adjacent spinal nerves that exit the spine at the level of the disc. This can cause severe pain and be debilitating. An common example of this is seen with a herniation at the Lumbar 4th & 5th vertebrae (L4-L5 disc herniation).   A L4-L5 herniation, in addition to lower back pain,  can cause a severe shooting pain down the buttock into the thigh & down the entire leg. This pain can also be associated with numbness & tingling in the leg.

Bottom line is a severe, large herniated disc can cause severe pain & lead to life altering consequences.

DIAGNOSIS & TREATMENT:

Once a patient has symptoms & pain, a doctor can do a variety of tests to determine if there is any neurological issue. However, the definitive test to determine if there is a herniated disc is a MRI exam. The MRI exam will show the exact status of the disc and whether or not there is a herniation.

Once a herniation is diagnosed, there are a number of different treatments available to the patient. Among the most common are physical therapy, muscle relaxation medication, anti inflammatory medication, pain medication, epidural injections, and if all fails there is surgical intervention.

Herniated discs are a common result of a traumatic accident \ injury and can result in severe pain & have life changing ramifications.  if you have suffered a herniated disc, call The Law Office of Frederick Altschuler to discuss your options.