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The spine is made up of a column of bones separated by spongy intervertebral discs. These discs allow the spine to move and also act as shock absorbers preventing the bones of the spinal column from grinding against one another. Each disc is made up of a strong outer ring of fibers called the annulus fibrosus and a soft, gel-like center called the nucleus pulposus. The outer ring of thick fibers attaches to the vertebrae and holds the disc in place.

A herniated disc occurs when the outer fibers tear or rupture and the gel-like center moves out of its normal position and into the limited space of the spinal canal. The displaced disc may compress nearby spinal nerves or exert pressure on the spinal cord. In addition, the gel-like center releases chemical irritants that can cause nerve inflammation and pain. Herniated discs can occur in any area of the spine; however, they are more likely to occur in the neck and lower back. Fortunately, this can be corrected with Dr. Stieber's NYC herniated disc surgery.

Symptoms

When a herniated disc presses on a nerve, pain, numbness, and/or weakness of the affected area may result. In contrast, if a herniated disc is not pressing on a nerve, mild pain may be the only symptom. The location of the herniated disc and the severity of the herniation dictate symptoms.

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Symptoms of a herniated disc in the lower back include:

  • Mild to severe lower back pain that is aggravated by movement.
  • Muscle spasm.
  • Sciatica (pain, burning, tingling, or numbness that extends from the buttock into the leg or foot).
  • Leg weakness or loss of leg function.

Symptoms of a cervical (neck) herniated disc may include:

  • Mild to sharp pain in the neck or between the shoulders blades that is aggravated by movement.
  • Pain that radiates down into the arm, hand or fingers. This is called a radiculopathy.
  • Numbness or tingling in the shoulder or arm.

Causes

Herniated disc surgery in New York is most commonly performed on middle-aged and elderly adults. The most common cause is disc degeneration, which is natural, age-related wear and tear. With age, the spinal discs naturally dry out, losing their strength and resiliency. This can make them more likely to tear or rupture.

Additional factors that can increase the risk for disc herniation include:

  • Excessive force to the spine i.e., falling or collision injuries
  • Incorrect and/or repetitive lifting or twisting
  • Obesity, lack of regular exercise, tobacco use
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Treatment

The majority of disc herniations do not require herniated disc surgery. The pain that is associated with this problem often resolves within four to six months. There are many non-surgical treatments that can help relieve symptoms in the meantime. They include:

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• Medications, such as anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling and pain, muscle relaxants to calm spasms, and narcotics to alleviate acute pain.

• Epidural corticosteroid injection(s) may help relieve significant radiating pain in the arm or leg.

• Physical therapy, which may include massage, stretching, therapeutic exercise, bracing, or traction to decrease pain and increase function

For those patients that do require herniated disc surgery in New York, you will find our outpatient minimally invasive microdiscectomy has a multitude of benefits. Click here to learn more.

How to Prevent a Herniated Disc

For many NYC patients, it is possible to prevent disc herniation from developing or recurring. The following steps can help keep your spine healthy and reduce your chances of experiencing back pain in the future:

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Exercise Regularly

Strengthening your back and abdominal muscles can support the spine and prevent injury to the area.

Practice Good Posture

Keeping your back straight and aligned can reduce pressure on your spine and discs. Pay close attention to your posture when sitting for long periods, and lift heavy objects using your legs, not your back.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight places additional pressure on your spine and discs, which puts you at risk for herniation.

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