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Herniated Disc (HNP)

Definition:

A herniated disc is the rupture of the tissue that separates the spinal vertebral bones. It may also be referred to as a slipped disc, prolapsed disc or ruptured disc.

Causes:

A herniated disc may result from disc degeneration, loss of fluid over time, or from an injury causing tears or cracks in the disc’s outer layer (annulus). A sudden movement or increased pressure to the low back, or repetitive movements such as poor lifting habits can result in a disc injury. The center of the disc (nucleus) is soft and springy and receives the forces of standing, walking, running, etc. The outer ring of the disc provides structure and strength to the disc. The nuclear tissue located in the center of the disc can be placed under so much pressure that it can cause the annulus to rupture. When the disc has herniated or ruptured, it may result in pain, weakness or numbness in the neck and arm.

Symptoms:

The most common symptoms of a herniated disk are low back pain and neck pain. You may experience sciatica—a sharp, often shooting pain that extends from the buttocks down the back of one leg. Other symptoms might include weakness in one leg or one arm; tingling numbness in one leg or buttock; burning pain in shoulder, neck or arm; or loss of bladder or bowel control.

Treatment:

For the first four to six weeks, treatment typically includes a combination of therapies, which may include:

  • Physical therapy, exercise and gentle stretching
  • Ice and heat therapy
  • Chiropractic manipulation
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or narcotic medications for pain
  • Oral steroids or epidural injections to decrease inflammation

Surgery may be considered if severe pain and decreased function continue after trying conservative treatments. Surgery can relieve compression and allow the nerve root the space needed to heal.

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