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Arizona Neurosurgery & Spine Specialist

Herniated Disc Specialist

What is a herniated disc?

Spinal discs sit between the vertebrae of the spine, cushioning and permitting movement of these bones. Discs have a tough outer casing around a softer, pliable interior. Whether described as slipped, ruptured, or herniated, the condition results when the inner tissue pushes through a tear in the outer layer.

Herniated discs may not cause any symptoms at all, healing in time without you being aware there was a problem. However, given that the nerves of the spinal column are close to the spinal discs, herniations often press on and irritate some of these nerves. This causes pain, weakness, or numbness, typically in the arms or legs, but other body systems may be affected as well. It depends on which disc is herniated as well as which nerve is irritated.

What symptoms do herniated discs cause?

Most disc problems occur in the lumbar spine, in the lower back, though neck problems, at the cervical spine, may also occur. The most common symptoms are radiated sensations, in the legs for lumbar disc issues, and in the arms for cervical issues. These sensations may be painful, but it’s also possible to feel numbness or weakness in the limbs without pain sensations.

Disc degeneration through the aging process is a common source of disc problems, as these lose flexibility over time, becoming more prone to damage. Since the time between herniation and pain symptoms may not be immediate, it’s often hard to know what exactly caused your disc rupture, but if the pain or numbness doesn’t clear with time or conservative treatment, surgery may be necessary.

How are herniated discs treated surgically?

Typically, there are four types of procedures used with herniated discs.

Discectomy is the most common surgical approach. Some or all the affected disc is removed. A less invasive form of the procedure, called a microdiscectomy, may be possible in some cases.

Laminotomy is minimally invasive, making an opening in the lamina, an arch in the vertebrae, to relieve pressure on the affected nerve.  

Spinal fusion permanently connects two or more vertebrae together with screws and rods or transplanted bone tissue. Surgery is invasive and requires longer recovery time.

Artificial disc replacement may be practical if you have problems in the lower back, with only one affected disc and no signs of arthritis or other bone deterioration.

The good news about herniated discs is that most cases resolve themselves, but when non-surgical treatment isn’t effective, you’ll want care from the most experienced neurosurgical practice in Arizona.

The doctors of Arizona Neurosurgery & Spine Specialists, located in Phoenix and Peoria, Arizona, are current with all surgical techniques for treating herniated discs.

A herniated disc is a common injury that can affect any part of the spine. A herniated disc can cause severe pain and other problems in the arms or legs.
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