Researchers estimate that as many as 5 to 20 out of every 1000 people in the United States have one or more herniated discs. Not all require treatment since disc problems can remain asymptomatic throughout your life. However, depending on how and where the disc ruptures, you may experience considerable pain and decreased mobility that can significantly impact your quality of life.
Our team at Yale Neurosurgery New London in New London, Connecticut, led by renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Patrick Doherty, specializes in accurately diagnosing and treating painful spinal conditions such as herniated discs.
In the following, we explain why our specialty group recommends seeking treatment with us for your herniated disc:
Spinal discs have a rubbery outer component surrounding a soft gel-like center called a nucleus. The discs act as cushions between the vertically stacked bones (vertebrae) in your spine. A herniated disc occurs when the outer material cracks, allowing the nucleus to push through.
You may never experience any symptoms from a herniated disc. However, if the nucleus pushes out into the spinal canal or presses on nearby nerves, you may develop varying degrees of pain that can become quite disabling.
People often describe herniated disc pain as burning or shock-like. Depending on the damaged disc’s location, discomfort can also travel into your shoulders, arms, head, buttocks, or legs. The pain may worsen with walking, standing, or sitting. Coughing or sneezing can also worsen herniated disc pain.
Treatments available at Yale Neurosurgery New London include physical therapy, medication, and other nonsurgical solutions focused on relieving your pain and restoring mobility.
Complications related to herniated discs include nerve compression that, depending on the location, can cause muscle weakness in your legs or arms, difficulty with balance, and eventual loss of bowel or bladder function.
Your therapy may include oral anti-inflammatory medication or steroid injections to reduce inflammation and soothe irritated nerves. Note that nerve damage related to herniated discs can become permanent if left untreated.
Pain and other complications related to herniated discs can affect your mobility and make it difficult to carry out your daily routine. However, treatments such as a personalized physical therapy program focusing on improving your strength, flexibility, and posture can restore an active and independent lifestyle.
Your overall physical health can suffer significantly when herniated disc pain makes it challenging to engage in healthy lifestyle habits such as routine exercise. Managing chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease also becomes more complex, and many people with chronic pain and disability experience significant depression and social isolation. Treatment for herniated disc pain can help resolve these issues.
Surgery may become your preferred treatment option if your symptoms don’t respond to conservative therapy. Dr. Doherty specializes in minimally invasive spine surgery, including highly advanced robotic surgery, that offers excellent results with quicker recovery and healing than traditional spine surgery.
Don’t ignore herniated disc pain. Instead, schedule an evaluation by calling our Yale Neurosurgery New London office today.