Despite feeling shooting pains in their back, arms, and legs or numbness and tingling (all symptoms of disc herniation) patients often ignore back pain until it impacts their daily lives. If these back-related problems sound familiar, it’s time to see a spine specialist. The sooner you seek help for back pain, the sooner your doctor can get you on a course of treatment designed to optimize your mobility and eliminate your pain. There is also a chance that your symptoms can be reduced without the need for surgery – but early intervention is essential.
If you live in the Los Angeles area, request an appointment with Dr. Todd H. Lanman at the Advanced Disc Replacement Spinal Restoration Center. Dr. Lanman is a leading spinal neurosurgeon and one of the most highly respected specialists in the area. Now expanding his practice beyond his Beverly Hills location, more patients can benefit from Dr. Lanman’s depth of experience in diagnosing disc disease and injury, like herniated discs, and get back to living their lives without pain. Learn more about this condition and how Dr. Lanman can treat it.
Disc herniation is a problem with one of the rubbery spinal disc cushions that protect each vertebra. The herniation often occurs when the disc is pushed out of place and into the nerve canal. This can be an incredibly painful experience as both the vertebrae and the nerve system in your spine are affected.
Each of the 33 vertebrae in your spine is protected by soft cushions between each bone called spinal discs. These shock absorbers allow you to move comfortably without your vertebrae knocking or rubbing together. However, they can also break down, wear out over time, crumble, or get pushed out of place. When this occurs, the problematic spinal disc moves into the spinal nerve canal, which can damage your nerves or make them highly sensitive, causing pain in other parts of your body.
Dr. Lanman may refer to the herniation as a bulged, slipped, or ruptured disc. Knowing these terms can help you better understand your condition and seek treatment.
Many people don’t experience any symptoms from a herniated disc. This is because their cases are mild and the herniation isn’t affecting the nerves. Some patients only realize they have herniated discs when they have a CT scan or MRI.
If symptoms do appear, they can vary in placement and severity. This is because you can experience disc herniation in any part of your spine – from the cervical spine in your neck to the lumbar region in your lower back. A few common symptoms of a herniated disc include:
Because specific nerves are affected by the herniated disc, only one side of your body may experience these symptoms. If you have a lumbar herniated disc, you might notice that only your left or right leg will experience numbness, tingling, or shooting pains.
Many patients are surprised to learn that herniated discs can cause pain outside of the back. Even if you don’t experience back pain you could develop symptoms related to a herniation.
Disc herniation varies from patient to patient. Because it is mostly caused by spinal discs wearing down over time, almost any person can develop this condition. However, some people have higher risk factors for disc herniation.
Someone who works at a desk job and plays tennis after work could be just as likely to develop a herniated disc as another person who works in a warehouse handling heavy items. Herniated discs can be caused by several repetitive motions, improper lifting without support, or simply by aging and excess weight placing pressure on the spine. It can form from a pre-existing injury or develop from strain over time.
Many patients can’t pinpoint the moment they developed a herniated disc or the cause of the herniation. Instead, they will develop symptoms over time and will only seek help once the pain or tingling becomes too much to handle.
Diagnosing a herniated disc is pretty straightforward. Every year, up to two percent of the population develops a herniated disc, which means this condition is commonly seen in spinal care centers.
Dr. Lanman will start the appointment by asking about your symptoms, pain, and lifestyle, including your job and hobbies before performing a physical exam. During this appointment, he will ask when you feel symptoms and what makes them feel better or worse.
If Dr. Lanman suspects that you have a herniated disc, he will order a series of tests to diagnose the issue. These tests are meant to identify the problem disc and to give Dr. Lanman a clear picture of the severity of the issue. From there, he can develop a treatment program to help you live without pain.
With intervention, it is possible to treat your herniated disc and reduce the amount of pain you are in. However, this condition can get worse over time if left untreated. A few ways your herniated disc can get worse include:
Ideally, you should see a doctor when your symptoms first present themselves. However, many patients wait until the herniated disc symptoms become so severe they impact their day-to-day lives. You need to see a doctor if you experience symptoms for four to six weeks, have trouble standing, and notice problems walking or using your arms.
There are multiple ways to address a herniated disc and Dr. Lanman might not immediately recommend surgery to remove the damaged disc. He is more likely to prescribe a series of non-surgical treatments to ease your pain and help you regain your mobility. A few of these options include:
Treating a herniated disc is a process. You may spend a few weeks completing physical therapy exercises and then return to share your progress with Dr. Lanman. If your condition does not improve, he may recommend surgery to remove the problem disc.
Don’t put off medical care if you live with back pain and suspect that you have a herniated disc. The longer you wait, the worse your symptoms can become. Even delaying treatment by a few weeks can affect your diagnosis and treatment options. Dr. Lanman continues to invest in modern surgical technologies that increase the chances of success while reducing the odds of infection. This means patients can enjoy faster recovery times and lower pain levels and, under Dr. Lanman’s care, access the aftercare resources they need to get back to living their lives, pain-free.
If you think you may need spinal surgery to treat your herniated disc, don’t wait any longer – request a consultation with Dr. Lanman and get the best help possible for your spine.