Pain Management

December 18, 2016

Diagnosing Your Discs: What’s the Best Pain Treatment?


Problems with your spinal discs can cause significant discomfort until you find a treatment that offers relief. There are surgical and nonsurgical options that can alleviate your back pain, depending on your diagnosis.

Persistent pain in your back or neck can be an indication of a problem with one or more of your spinal discs. These small bones, or vertebrae, that comprise your spine can wear down as you age or weaken due to an underlying medical condition. They can also be damaged if you experience trauma, which can occur in an accident or while playing sports. Herniated discs and degenerative disc disease are two common types of spinal disc problems that may be causing your pain. The most effective spinal disc pain treatments you can receive in Arkansas will depend on your diagnosis.

Herniated Disc
Herniated discs can occur in your upper spine, although they typically affect the lower part of the back. This type of spinal disc problem develops when the soft, gel-like material inside the affected disc is pushed through an opening in your vertebra. When this happens, the surrounding nerves become irritated and cause pain in your back. You might also experience pain in your legs or arms when you move around or perform sudden movements, such as sneezing. This spinal disc problem can also trigger tingling or weakness in your limbs.

If your doctor determines that you have a herniated disc based on a physical exam and imaging tests, short-term and long-term treatments are available. Treating a herniated disc on a short-term basis involves nonsurgical methods, such as going through physical therapy and avoiding certain activities that could cause further damage. If this is not effective, your doctor might recommend a surgical procedure to repair the disc and relieve your pain. Surgical treatments for herniated discs include:

  • Microdiscectomy: This is a minimally invasive procedure that involves making a small incision in the upper or lower back, depending on where the herniated disc is located. Surgeons remove the material that is emerging from the spinal disc, which eases pressure on nerves.
  • Microendoscopic discectomy: This minimally invasive procedure involves completely taking out the herniated disc instead of simply removing the affected gel-like material. In some cases, bone grafts are placed in the area to lower the risk of additional injuries in that part of the spine.

Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative disc disease occurs when spinal discs wear down over time. This is part of the aging process, but some people experience this spinal disc problem to a greater degree. The condition can cause lower back pain or neck pain, mainly due to inflammation. The pain associated with this condition can get worse after lifting an object or moving into certain positions. In some cases, degenerative disc disease can cause pain that becomes severe enough to interfere with everyday tasks and activities.

If you have mild degenerative disc disease, your doctor might recommend nonsurgical forms of treatment, such as limiting activities that make pain worse and doing exercises that strengthen this part of your spine. For a more severe case, your doctor might recommend clinical spinal disc pain treatments. For example, lumbar epidural steroid injections can deliver steroids to your spine that reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Since these injections are done directly in your spine, they allow the medication to reach the affected area much faster than oral medications. You can receive lumbar epidural steroid injections one to three times per year.

If you are seeking treatment for spinal disc problems in Arkansas, contact Arkansas Surgical Hospital at 877-918-7020 to schedule an appointment with one of our supportive surgical experts.

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