Herniated / Ruptured Disk
Clearwater, Tampa, St Petersburg, Florida
A herniated or ruptured disk (sometimes called a “slipped” disk) is a disk that has had its outer ring of annulus ligaments rupture, allowing the nucleus to “leak out” irritating nerves and causing pain. This is similar to an abdominal hernia – where the muscle of the abdominal wall has torn or ruptured, allowing some of the intestine to poke through. A related condition is Cervical Disk Disease or cervical disk herniation.
What’s the difference between a bulging disk and a herniated or ruptured disk?
With a bulging disk, the inner gel-like nucleus is still contained within the disk by the outer ring of annulus ligaments. With a herniated or ruptured disk, the outer ring of annulus ligaments is ruptured, allowing the nucleus to “leak out” irritating nerves and causing pain.
Symptoms of a Herniated Disk
Symptoms of a herniated disk are the same as for a bugling disk. Where the herniated disk presses on nerve roots, it can cause pain, numbness and weakness in the area of the body where the nerve travels. A herniated disk in the lower back can cause pain and numbness in the buttock and down the leg – called sciatica. Sciatica is the most common symptom of a herniated disc in the low back. A herniated disk in the neck (cervical spine) can cause pain and numbness down the arm and into the hand. Leg and arm pain caused by a herniated disk is also referred to as radiculopathy.
A herniated disk can also be treated with non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory medication if the pain is only mild to moderate. An epidural steroid injection may be performed using a spinal needle under x-ray guidance to direct the medication to the exact vertebral level of the herniation. The medication will help relief pain and swelling.
Treatment for a Herniated Disk
The two primary goals of treatment are to provide pain relief and to allow the patient to return to a relatively normal functional level. The most common conservative treatment options for a herniated disk include:
- Rest if there is severe pain. Otherwise, stay active. Staying in bed for more than one or two days can weaken muscles and make the problem worse. Walking and other light activity may help.
- Try using a heating pad on a low or medium setting, or a warm shower, for 15 to 20 minutes every couple of hours. You can also try an ice pack for 10 to 15 minutes every 2 to 3 hours.
- Do the exercises that your doctor or physical therapist suggests. These will help keep the back muscles strong and prevent another injury.
- Ask your doctor about medicine to treat your symptoms. Medicine won’t cure a herniated disk, but it may help with pain and swelling.
- Your doctor may also recommend physical therapy. The therapist will perform an in-depth evaluation; which combined with the doctor’s diagnosis, will dictate a treatment specifically designed for patients with herniated disks.
If you suffer with a herniated disk and your current treatment plan leaves you feeling hopeless, perhaps a fresh set of experienced eyes can change your outlook. Since 1990, Dennis M. Lox, M.D has applied his personal interests in sports medicine, cutting-edge regenerative medicine and chronic pain management to helping patients increase their quality of life. Contact us for an appointment at 727-462-5582.
Dennis M. Lox, MD, and the Florida Spine Center serve patients within the greater Tampa Bay area, including Clearwater, Tampa and St. Petersburg, as well as all of Florida and the US.
All statements, information or opinions provided by this website are provided for educational purposes only. We do not diagnose nor treat through this website or by telephone. As you consider any treatment, discuss them with your physician