Also called a ruptured disc or slipped disc, a herniated disc is one that has broken open. Discs are small, spongy cushions between the vertebrae that serve as shock absorbers and help the spine stay flexible. As a person gets older, however, their discs become dryer and more prone to rupturing. Tiny cracks can develop in the outer layer of the disc that eventually bursts open. The thick gel inside the disc oozes out and can cause pain by pressing on nearby nerves. Back injuries can also cause herniated discs.
While a herniated disc can happen anywhere, it is most common in the lumbar region or lower back. The most common symptom of herniated discs in the lower back is a condition called sciatica that is characterized by numbness and pain in the buttock and down the leg.
How are Herniated Discs in the Lower Back Treated?
We will typically recommend conservative and non-surgical treatments at first. Believe it or not, one or two days of bed rest can relieve severe back pain, depending on the situation. We may recommend physical therapy. The therapist will teach the patient specific exercises to strengthen their back and prevent further damage. Anti-inflammatory medications can relieve back pain as well.
When Should Somebody Undergo Surgery?
Surgery is almost always seen as a last resort when it comes to herniated discs. We are likely to recommend surgery if any of the following are true:
• The patient has abnormal sensitivity, weakness and/or loss of mobility
• The patient has severe leg pain that hasn’t improved after at least four weeks of treatment
• Tests indicate that surgery can help the herniated disc
Learn More About Your Treatment Options
It is important to understand that treatment for herniated discs is not one-size-fits-all. What works for one person may not work for another person in a similar situation. During an initial consultation at Innovative Spine, our specialist can assess your case and review your health and medical history. From there, a customized treatment plan can be created for you. We have two locations in San Antonio. If you are dealing with back pain or a herniated disc, contact us today to schedule an appointment to learn about all of your treatment options!