Herniated Discs: aka Slipped Discs, Ruptured Discs, Herniated Slipped Disc, Lumbar Disc Herniation
What is it?
A slipped disc or herniated discs are common causes for lower back pain and chronic back pain. The term slipped disc is often used synonymously with the term herniated disc. In fact herniated disc is a term used very often by many to describe slipped disc, ruptured disc, bulging disc etc., yet all these terms usually refer to the same thing.
Herniated discs are a condition where part of the invertebral disc, a part of the spinal column in the back, the soft, jelly-like center part of the disc that cushions the vertebrae, is forced through a weak part of the disc. This can cause discomfort and pain. This pain is often felt in the back, but it can also extend into the leg and into other areas of the body like in the arm and in the neck or hand.
Nerve roots in the body often become compressed or stuck when discs herniated, so this can cause other symptoms including tingling and numbness. When this happens a person sometimes develops other conditions like neuropathy.
There are many signs and symptoms of herniated discs or ruptured discs. Some of the more common signs and symptoms of ruptured discs include:
- Chronic yet moderate to severe lower back pain
- Chronic pain that seems to radiate or spread into other areas most commonly the buttocks, feet and legs
- Tingling feelings or numbness that occurs mostly in the legs and in the feet
- Weakness in the muscles or atrophy when herniated discs are in the later phases
- Spasms in the muscles of the back
If herniated discs occur in the neck, they are called “herniated cervical discs” or ruptured cervical discs. Some common signs and symptoms of cervical disc herniation include:
- Pain in the neck, most commonly along the back and side of the neck
- Pain near the should blades, commonly on one side, pain that may burn or throb
- Radiating pain that extends into the shoulder and arm, and sometimes into the finger and hand
- Pain that often gets worse if one strains, coughs or laughs
- Increasing pain when the head turns from side to side
- Spasms in the neck
- Muscle weakness, often found in the arms
Alternatives to Surgery
Some people elect for surgery to repair herniated discs, but this can be risky and there are no guarantees that surgery will help alleviate neck pain and the problems associated with herniated discs. There are alternatives to surgery including traction and physical therapy. There are also special lasers that can provide symptomatic relief for patients with ruptured cervical discs.
If you do plan to work with someone that uses manual or machine traction devices and lasers to treat herniated disc pain, make sure they have practiced for some time and have a track record of success. You don’t want to be a guinea pig on the table of someone trying out a new procedure, and there are many newer products on the market some people are not yet fully qualified to operate.
Before the Operation
There are operations or surgical procedures doctors can perform to help repair herniated discs. Some surgeries include the laser discectomy. IN this procedure a portion of the herniated cervical disc that causes nerve compression is removed through a tiny incision in the cervical spine. The surgeon places a needle in the area of the neck responsible for symptoms. Then the surgeon places an endoscopic tube into the back and removes the diseased disc material. A laser then vaporizes any diseased tissue, and reshapes the remaining disc so it no longer bulges.
Once this happens the surgeon covers the incision with a dressing and sends the patient home to recover. Some patients may start feeling better within 24-hours following their surgery. Rehabilitation can occur within hours following surgery.
After the Operation- In the Hospital
Following surgery and while still in the hospital, the primary objectives are to allow the patient to wake up from anesthesia and then to prepare the patient for recovery at home. Detailed recovery instructions will be given to the patient prior to their release from the hospital.
After the Operation- At Home
Shortly following surgery rehabilitation can occur. This typically involves support for the back and neck and regular exercise in the form of walking. It is important to avoid narcotic medications as these can eventually increasing pain. There are electrical stimulation machines that help block pain in patients with herniated discs. These are often recommended to patients undergoing surgery.
There are always potential risks associated with surgery. Some potential complications may include a small risk of infection or recurrence of the herniated disc. There is less risk of infection with this procedure than with more invasive procedures like a cervical disc decompression.
Cervical disc herniation is a common problem affecting people of all ages. Conservative treatment is often the first line of treatment for individuals affected by disc problems. If however you find you suffer from chronic pain despite your best efforts to relieve it, you may find you are a good candidate for alternative treatments including a new procedure know as a laser discectomy. This procedure is minimally invasive.
Estimated Costs for Cervical Decompression Surgery
The costs of cervical decompression surgery vary from country to country. You may find the cost of surgery also depends on the severity of your condition. Make sure you check in with multiple physicians prior to deciding on how much to pay for your surgery. Many centers will offer financing to help support the cost of cervical decompression surgery. You may receive a discounted price for paying your bill in full at the time of surgery.
Many people find the cost of surgery is dramatically reduced by traveling abroad for surgery. There are many high-quality medical health centers that now offer state-of-the-art medical facilities providing services including cervical decompression, spinal fusion and a whole range of other health and wellness services. Not only will you receive the surgery you need in a relaxing setting you will also get to enjoy a mini-vacation while you recover! Why not make the best of both worlds. Get better from the inside out.
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