A disc herniation is injury to the intervertebral disc, the cartilage pad that separates the vertebrae (the bones of the spine). It can occur in the cervical spine (neck) and cause pain into the arm/wrist/fingers, in the thoracic spine (mid-back) and cause pain in the mid-back and even around the chest, and in the lumbar spine (low back) and cause pain into the thigh, calf, ankle, foot and toes.
Disc Herniation in the Lumbar Spine
Note the disc herniation compressing the nerve causing inflammation and pain.
There are different names for disc herniations - ruptured disc, herniated disc, slipped disc, bulging disc, protruding disc, extruding disc - but they all come down to two basic types: contained disc herniations or non-contained disc herniations.
- contained discs - Those discs that the center of the disc (nucleus) stays within the outer anular fibers, usually causing low back pain and possibly leg pain.
- non-contained discs - Those discs that the center of the disc (nucleus) escapes through the outer anular fibers, usually resulting in leg pain.
Each section of the spine is examined, diagnosed and treated a little differently, but the desired outcome is the same: a return to your pain-free quality of life as quickly as possible.
Notes on Disc Healing:
"It's gone!" Not feeling any pain, especially for the first time in days, weeks, months or even years is certainy a cause for celebration. But remember, it takes three months for a torn disc to heal well enough to allow you to return to daily activities like prolonged computer work, lifting, twisting, etc. The first three to four weeks of concentrated treatment, therapies, and at-home care are designed to allow the best opportunity for the disc to heal quickly.
In office, New Hampshire Spine and Sport uses Cox Technic to lower the pressure in the disc so the nucleus pulposus returns to the center of the disc, aid in the healing of the torn anular fibers, and drive out chemicals that irritate and inflame the spinal nerves. At home, as recommended, you will want to consider avoiding sleeping on your stomach, sleeping on a good mattress, wearing a neck brace or back support brace if recommended, taking nutritional supplements that help rebuild disc cartilage, exercising, and modifying your daily activities as needed.
New Hampshire Spine and Sport is ready to help direct your control and relief of disc herniation pain.