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Herniated Disc

Birmingham Neurosurgery & Spine Group

Neurological Surgery located in Birmingham, AL

Herniated discs in your spine are a common problem many Americans experience. If your herniated disc isn’t responding to conservative treatments, the team of expert spinal surgeons at Birmingham Neurosurgery & Spine Group in Birmingham, Alabama, can help. They have considerable experience in treating herniated discs and offer highly advanced surgical options, including discectomies and artificial disc implantation. Call Birmingham Neurosurgery & Spine Group today to find out more about the treatments available for herniated discs.

Herniated Disc Q & A

What is a herniated disc?

A herniated or slipped disc is a common cause of back pain and loss of function caused by a problem with the shock-absorbing discs in between your vertebrae.

The vertebrae that make up your spine have discs between them to protect the bones from each other and provide cushioning and flexibility to your spine. Discs have a soft inside surrounded by a tough outer layer of cartilage.

A herniated disc is a consequence of the soft interior pushing through the outer casing. In many cases, the herniated part of the disc presses on the nerves running through your spinal column. Even the slightest pressure on these highly sensitive nerves can lead to pain, tingling, pins and needles sensations, and loss of function.

What causes herniated discs?

Herniated discs generally happen in one of two ways. The outer casing could rupture if you put your back under extreme strain, causing an acute injury. Or more likely, the wear and tear of life weakens the outer casing and the interior eventually pushes through.

As you age, your spinal discs become drier, harder, and less flexible. The outer casing is more likely to weaken, meaning the interior jelly can find a weak spot and push through. You’re at a higher risk of developing disc problems if you smoke or are obese.

The weakened outer casing can give way gradually, or it may pop through suddenly when you’re engaging in strenuous or repetitive movement or lifting using a poor technique.

How are herniated discs treated?

Most patients who have herniated discs respond to conservative treatments, which might include:

  • Resting
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Anti-inflammatory medications 
  • Ice packs
  • Gentle heat
  • Controlled exercise
  • Physical therapy

If these initial treatments aren’t helping, or you’re struggling with your physical therapy, you could try having an epidural steroid injection to ease the inflammation. If you’re still experiencing symptoms, you might benefit from discussing surgical options with the team at Birmingham Neurosurgery & Spine Group.

What surgeries are there for a herniated disc?

There are several surgical options available for treating herniated discs. The choice that’s best for you depends on the nature of the herniation and where it is, which your surgeon can discuss with you.

Discectomy involves the removal of the damaged sections of the disc, which relieves nerve pressure. Cervical discectomy in your neck consists of removing the entire disc and replacing it with bone. Your surgeon then fuses the bone to your vertebrae. They may also insert a metal plate for extra support.

Whenever possible, the Birmingham Neurosurgery & Spine Group team uses minimally invasive microdiscectomy techniques to minimize tissue damage and promote faster healing. They also use state-of-the-art Mazor robotics and the METRx® System of dilators and tubes to provide unrivaled surgical accuracy and effectiveness.

If you have back pain, call Birmingham Neurosurgery & Spine Group to arrange a consultation today.