What is a herniated disc?
A herniated disc occurs when an intervertebral spinal disc becomes damaged from increased pressure, causing the disc’s inner, gel-like center (nucleus pulposus) to seep out and irritate surrounding nerves. Herniated discs are common in the lower part of the spine, but they can develop in the cervical (neck) and thoracic (mid-back) spine as well. This is important to note because while some herniated discs can (sometimes) be left untreated, ruptured discs in the cervical spine really shouldn’t be ignored.
What are the symptoms of a herniated disc?
Herniated discs may produce no symptoms at all, or they may produce the following:
- Pain that radiates down the buttocks, legs, and feet (also known as sciatica)
- Pain that radiates down the shoulders, arms, and hands
- Tingling or numbness in the legs or feet
- Muscle weakness or spasms
As we alluded to previously, the severity and location of your herniated disc may be a major deciding factor for whether or not you should prolong or avoid treatment. If your herniated disc is relatively minor and does not produce any notable or bothersome symptoms, you can generally forgo treatment. Just keep in mind, however, that most herniated discs do not heal on their own, and over time, they will worsen and cause moderate to severe health problems. So while you may decide to put off treatment now, there's no telling how your condition will progress - if it'll worsen or stay virtually the same as time passes on.
Can I put off treatment for my herniated disc?
Dr. Mark Giovanini of NeuroMicroSpine understands that prolonging or avoiding treatment for a herniated disc is a personal decision. Regardless, he likes to ask patients this one question: are you satisfied with living in constant pain? It's more than likely you're answer will be: "probably not," which is why he often recommends patients seek treatment for their herniated disc(s) as soon as they start experiencing pain.
If the pain is excruciating or interferes with your ability to perform normal tasks, you should seek the advice of a spine specialist like Dr. Giovanini. While interventional pain care can be effective in reducing pain associated with a herniated disc, these treatment options won’t fix the underlying problem.
As we mentioned previously, your herniated disc will eventually worsen; it’s just the nature of the disease. Therefore, you may want to consider minimally invasive spine surgery to completely repair the spinal disc for long lasting pain relief. Again, the choice is yours.
If you leave a herniated disc untreated, you may experience intense, sharp pains, partial paralysis, or the inability to control bowel movements in relatively dire situations. Your herniated disc may never get to that point, but why risk it? Call NeuroMicroSpine today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Mark Giovanini. He will evaluate the extent of the damaged and recommend the best course of action for treatment. Don’t live in pain any longer, call today!
For more information on whether spinal surgery is necessary for your condition, or to make an appointment with the doctors at NeuroMicroSpine, please call (850) 934-7545 or click here to request an appointment. We hope to see you soon!
The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or counter a physician's advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.