Spinal discs play a crucial role in the lower back, serving as shock absorbers between the vertebrae, supporting the upper body, and allowing a wide range of movement in all directions.
If a disc herniates and leaks some of its inner material, it can aggravate a nerve, triggering back pain and nerve symptoms down the leg.
Most herniated disks occur in the lower back. Symptoms depend on where the disc is situated and whether the disc is pressing on a nerve. Common symptoms include:
Discs are thick cushions made of cartilage that sit between each vertebra of the spinal column. Discs play a vital role in absorbing the forces placed on the spine during movement.
Discs can become weak and damaged through age or trauma caused by excessive pressure, such as heavy lifting. This damage is called “herniation”, an abnormal protrusion of the soft gel-like core (nucleus) of the disc into or through the strong outer wall of fibres (annulus).
Disc herniation can occur in four ways:
In most cases of a herniated disc, a physical exam and a medical history is all that is required for a diagnosis. If Dr Shiva suspects another condition or needs to see which nerves are affected, they may order one or more of the following tests.
Few people with herniated disks require surgery. If nonsurgical treatments such as medication and rest fail to improve your symptoms, Dr Shiva may suggest surgery.
Surgery is considered when patients experience:
In nearly all cases, surgeons can remove the protruding portion of the disk. A surgeon will rarely need to remove the entire disc. The vertebrae might need to be fused with a bone graft in these cases.
Surgery generally takes 1-2 hours, and most patients can be discharged after 1-2 days. Most patients can return to their normal activities after lumbar disc surgery.