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Disc Herniation Explained

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Disc Herniation Explained

  • Dr. Charla Fischer
  • Nov 11, 2020

The spine is made up of an intricate series of parts that all work together to allow normal function and comfort. When any element of the structure is compromised, it can cause discomfort and immobility that may become severe and debilitating.

What is a spinal disc?
The spine consists of a series of bones that fit together along the spinal column, joined at each meeting point by discs that serve as padding between the hard bony joints. These pads between each spinal bone, called vertebrae, act as cushions that enable the bones to move comfortably and fully. 

What is a herniated disc?
You might picture each disc like a jelly donut with filling inside. The exterior portion is harder, but the interior is like jelly that allows the joints to slide smoothly. When the inside of a disc is damaged, that portion can break through the walls and protrude into the spinal canal. It often pushes against nerves or allows vertebrae to touch each other, either of which can lead to significant and radiating pain, muscle weakness, numbness, loss of motion and more. A herniated disc may result from deterioration due to age or from an injury or trauma to the area. It is typically diagnosed by an expert like spine surgeon Dr. Fischer in NYC through an examination, x-rays and imaging tests.

How is a herniated disc treated?
The first goal of treating a herniated disc is managing the pain, as many patients are extremely uncomfortable with this condition. Sometimes over-the-counter pain relievers are sufficient, but it is not uncommon for Dr. Fischer to prescribe stronger pain medications for herniated discs. Muscle relaxants may also be recommended, as well as cortisone shots or other steroid medications. Many patients choose treatments such as massage, chiropractic therapy, yoga and more to deal with the condition as much as possible using non-surgical methods. However, surgery is sometimes the best treatment for disc herniation. Common surgeries include using an artificial disc to replace the damaged one or removing the disc completely and fusing two vertebrae together.  Dr. Fischer is experienced and skilled at these techniques and is able to help patients decide the ideal course of action for correcting a herniated disc and returning to their normal lives.

 


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