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
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
- 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:
- 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.