Comprehensive Care

Our team of experienced orthopedic surgeons offers you a range of options to manage your herniated disc condition. First, we explain the details of your condition and answer any questions you and your family may have. Once you understand your condition, we work together with you to develop a treatment plan. Whenever appropriate, we will recommend non-surgical treatment options to alleviate your pain. We help you weigh the risks and benefits of all options—both nonsurgical and surgical—so you can choose a treatment plan that will be the best for you.

What is a herniated disc?

Your spine is made up of a long column of bones called vertebrae. The spine runs from your neck to your lower back and forms a protective cushion around your spinal cord and spinal nerves.

Between your spinal bones (vertebrae) are pads or cushions of cartilage called discs. Natural use or strain or an injury can cause a disc to rupture (leak) or slip out of place (herniate). When a disc weakens, parts of it can shift and put pressure on a nerve or even the spinal nerves. This may result in pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness.

What causes a herniated disc?

A variety of factors can reduce the amount of water in the discs, making them weaker and more likely to get injured. These include:

  • Natural aging process
  • Being overweight
  • Picking up heavy objects
  • Smoking
  • Injury

What are the symptoms?

Any of these symptoms of a herniated disc may warrant a visit to MedStar Orthopaedic Institute for a comprehensive spinal evaluation:

  • Pain in the back and/or shooting down your leg or legs
  • Burning sensation
  • Leg weakness
  • Numbness
  • Tingling, like your leg “fell asleep”
  • Bladder control problems

How is it diagnosed?

The orthopedic surgeons at MedStar Orthopaedic Institute are experts at diagnosing herniated discs. Our initial exam generally includes:

  • Medical history evaluation – This includes asking questions about when your pain began, and when the pain feels most severe. Other questions may be about whether you have other medical problems, and if you take any medications.
  • Physical exam – Your orthopedist will determine where your back is most sensitive by examining it and by asking you to move and bend in different directions.
  • Imaging tests – Your orthopedist may want to examine the bones and joints themselves using a variety of imaging techniques, including:
    • X-ray, which can help determine if your bones are aging
    • CT scan, which combines X-ray technology with computers to provide a very detailed picture of the spine
    • MRI, which uses powerful magnets and computer technology to create a picture of your muscles, tissues, nerves, and discs
  • Nerve tests, which can show how well your nerves are functioning, and indicate exact location on your spine where your discs may be damaged

What are the best treatment options?

Many patients respond well to nonsurgical treatment options, which may include any of the following:

  • Rest
  • Anti-inflammatory or pain medications
  • Herniated disc physical therapy
  • Heat or ice
  • Massage therapy
  • Strengthening exercises


If non-surgical treatment does not relieve your pain, you may need surgery. MedStar Orthopaedic Institute’s surgeons will work with you to determine the least invasive and most effective surgical option for you. Surgical options we offer include:


If you believe you may be suffering from a herniated disc, call 202-295-0511 to schedule a consultation with one of our orthopedic specialists at MedStar Orthopaedic Institute. Our doctors have years of experience diagnosing and treating neck and back conditions and are pleased to offer comprehensive spinal care in the Washington, D.C. area.

Our Specialists

Neck & Spine

Joseph Leigh Ferguson, MD

MedStar Georgetown University Hospital
MedStar Orthopaedic Institute - Chevy Chase
MedStar Orthopaedic Institute - Lafayette Centre
Seyed Babak Kalantar, MD

MedStar Georgetown University Hospital
MedStar Orthopaedic Institute - Chevy Chase
MedStar Orthopaedic Institute – McLean
Akhil Jay Khanna, MD

MedStar Georgetown University Hospital
MedStar Orthopaedic Institute - Chevy Chase
MedStar Orthopaedic Institute – McLean
Fred Fei Mo, MD
Fred Fei Mo, MD
Spine Surgery

MedStar Georgetown University Hospital
MedStar Orthopaedic Institute - Chevy Chase
MedStar Orthopaedic Institute – McLean
Alan George Schreiber, MD

MedStar Orthopaedic Institute – Alexandria
MedStar Orthopaedic Institute – Brandywine
MedStar Orthopaedic Institute – Waldorf
Oliver O. Tannous, MD

MedStar Orthopaedic Institute – Mitchellville
MedStar Washington Hospital Center
James Edward Tozzi, MD

MedStar Washington Hospital Center
Sam W. Wiesel, MD
Sam W. Wiesel, MD
Spine Surgery

MedStar Georgetown University Hospital


3800 Reservoir Road Northwest Washington, DC, 20007
Phone: 202-444-8766
106 Irving Street Northwest, Washington, DC, 20010
Phone: 202-877-6000
1120 20th Street Northwest, Building 1 South Washington, DC, 20036
Phone: 202-416-2000
13950 Brandywine Road, 2nd Floor Brandywine, MD, 20613
Phone: 301-856-1682
5454 Wisconsin Avenue, 11th Floor Chevy Chase, MD, 20815
Phone: 301-215-9423
6355 Walker Lane, Suite 501 Alexandria, VA, 22310
Phone: 703-971-3701
9455 Lorton Market Street, Suite 200 Lorton, VA, 22079
Phone: 703-971-3701
6858 Old Dominion Drive, Suite 200 Mc Lean, VA, 22101
Phone: 202-444-8766
11325 Pembrooke Square, Suite 115 Waldorf, MD, 20603
Phone: 301-856-1682