cervical disc herniationA herniated disc is also referred to as a slipped or ruptured disc. It is a spinal condition in which the soft discs (like cushions or spacers) between each vertebra move or slip out. This can result in pain ranging from an aching back to a burning pain that can radiate (sciatica) down the leg and perhaps further down into the foot. 

The herniation can be from an injury, lifting something heavy, aging/degeneration, or even turning the wrong way too quickly. Obesity can also be a factor, as the spinal cushions/discs have to absorb the extra weight’s constant pressure. The type of hernia can be classified as either:

  • Contained. The disc can become squeezed, causing the center to bulge out; however, it is still surrounded by the disc walls. The bulge can press into the spine or nerve, which can be painful.

  • Non-contained. The gelatinous center actually breaks through the lining, leaking out, which can irritate nearby nerves.

For a better mental picture, think of when you squeeze a stress ball, and some fluid or gel-like filling protrudes or bulges out to the sides.

How Is It Treated?

Herniated discs do not always require surgery; in fact, it’s common for them to heal without surgical procedures. Depending on the type of doctor you visit, treatment methods can vary. You most likely would be treated by an orthopedic doctor or a pain management specialist. Initially, remedies will be more conservative in nature, such as:

  • Spinal injections (Epidurals)
  • Painkillers
  • Physical Therapy
  • Rest 
  • Ice 
  • Massage
  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic care

How Can a Pain Management Specialist Help?

These doctors are specifically trained to treat pain and develop a treatment plan to help you. They will first evaluate you to properly diagnose the type of pain and how to treat it. If the non-invasive treatments are unsuccessful in managing your pain, they will refer you to an orthopedist who can review your situation further to see if surgery is the right plan for you. 

At Commonwealth Spine & Pain Management, our doctors have decades of experience working with patients with herniated discs. If you need pain management in the Richmond area, contact us at (804) 288-7246 for an appointment.