Though age increases your risk of a herniated disc, this painful problem doesn’t just affect older adults. People between the ages of 35-55 are most likely to develop the problem for the first time. Eugene Bonaroti, MD, FACS, at Surgical Spine Associates helps patients of all ages find relief from the pain of a herniated disc with individualized care that encompasses nonsurgical and surgical options. If you’re ready to get relief from your neck or back pain, call one of the offices in Irwin, Cranberry, or Fox Chapel, Pennsylvania, or schedule an appointment online.
The discs located between the vertebrae in your spine serve several essential roles. They allow spinal movement, stabilize the spine, and absorb shock when you move.
Spinal discs can do their jobs thanks to their specialized construction: They’re made of a tough fibrous outer covering that encases a gel-like inner core.
Over the years, the discs lose moisture, dehydrate, and harden. Additionally, daily wear and tear breaks down the outer covering. As a result, the cover develops weak areas where the inner gel can bulge out.
As this bulge pushes into the spinal canal, it presses against the nerves, resulting in pain and inflammation. When the outer cover ruptures, the gel spills into the spinal canal, irritating the nerves and causing pain.
A herniated disc causes neck or back pain, depending on where the problem occurs. Compressed nerves also cause symptoms along the nerve, so you may experience tingling and pain that travel down your arm or leg.
Some patients also lose feeling or develop muscle weakness in the affected limb. Nerve damage can also make it hard to walk or use your hands for fine motor tasks.
When evaluating patients with neck or back pain, Dr. Bonaroti completes a physical and neurological exam and may perform diagnostic testing as needed, such as an MRI, CT scan, or in some cases, electromyography to determine nerve function.
Dr. Bonaroti then develops a treatment plan that’s tailored to meet your unique needs, beginning with nonsurgical therapies such as physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medications.
If your pain is severe, doesn’t improve with treatment, or gets worse, he talks with you about minimally invasive surgery to repair the herniated disc.
During a minimally invasive discectomy or microdiscectomy, Dr. Bonaroti uses small incisions and narrow tubes to access the herniated disc. Then he removes either the herniated portion or the entire disc.
If he removes the entire disc, Dr. Bonaroti inserts an artificial disc whenever possible. Replacing the damaged disc with an artificial disc stabilizes your spine and preserves spinal movement.
Before artificial discs were available, the only option was to fuse the two vertebrae after the herniated disc was removed. Though a fusion is still sometimes necessary, it stops movement between the two bones.
You’ll receive compassionate care for back and neck pain at Surgical Spine Associates. Call one of the offices or book an appointment online today.