The spine is made up of a series of connected bone called vertebrae. Between each vertebra is a cushion called the intervertebral disc. Each disc absorbs the stress and shock that goes through the body during movements like bending, twisting, running and jumping.
A herniated disc can also be called a slipped disc. It happens when part of the disc is squeezed out from between the vertebrae. Although most herniated discs are not symptomatic, they can potentially result in an irritated or “pinched” nerve, resulting in buttocks or leg pain, numbness, tingling, weakness, and, sometimes, back pain.
The pain can vary from very mild to so severe it is almost intolerable. In some instances, there may be no pain and proper investigation is then needed to determine the cause of the nerve problem.
Most people with a herniated disc do not have a pinched nerve (medical term: radiculopathy), but even if radiculopathy is present, surgery is usually not needed to correct the problem. It becomes vital to distinguish if the herniated disc is causing a problem and if so which disc to direct proper treatment. This is where a physiatrist’s analysis is vital. Just as if you had chest pain you would not seek the consultation of a heart surgeon, but see a cardiologist first, so with back pain, herniated discs, or musculoskeletal pain of any type including arthritis, it is important to seek the advice of a non-surgical specialist who has the ability to analyze the situation in depth and has a large number of treatment options besides just surgery to offer.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call (248) 893-3200.