Everything You Need To Know About Herniated Disc Treatment

About the Author: Dr. Scott Gray

Dr. Scott Gray is the Owner of Back in Motion Physical Therapy & Performance. Each and Every Week He Helps His Clients & Patients Live Their Life to the Fullest, Get Active, and Get Pain-Free.

Everything You Need To Know About A Herniated Disc & Herniated Disc Treatment

Herniated discs can be a source of significant discomfort and disruption in one's life. This guide aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of herniated discs, covering their definition, causes, symptoms, and available treatment options.

What Is A Herniated Disc?

In the complex spinal structure, the small discs cushioning the vertebrae play a crucial role. These discs are typically round and flat, consisting of a tough, outer layer known as the annulus and an inner, gel-like substance called the nucleus. These discs act as shock absorbers, positioned between each vertebra within the spinal column.

A herniated disc, also referred to as a bulged, slipped, or ruptured disc, occurs when a fragment of the disc nucleus is pushed out through a rupture in the annulus into the spinal canal. Herniated discs are commonly found in early stages of degeneration, and their displacement into the spinal canal can lead to pressure on spinal nerves, often resulting in severe pain.

While herniated discs can affect any part of the spine, they are more prevalent in the lower back. However, they can also manifest in the neck, and the location of the pain is contingent on the affected area of the spine.


Causes of A Herniated Disc

Herniated discs can be the result of a single excessive strain or injury. Nevertheless, as one ages, the disc's natural degeneration, coupled with the weakening of the ligaments holding it in place, makes it increasingly susceptible to rupture. In such cases, even minor strains can cause disc ruptures.

Furthermore, individuals with a predisposition to disc problems may experience herniated discs at different locations along the spine. Research indicates that family history may be a factor in such predispositions.


Symptoms of Herniated Disc

The symptoms of herniated discs can vary significantly based on the disc's position and the extent of the herniation. When the herniated disc does not exert pressure on a nerve, the patient may experience mild to no pain. Conversely, if nerve pressure is involved, there may be pain, weakness, or numbness in the corresponding area of the body.


Common symptom profiles include:

Lumbar Spine (Lower Back): Sciatica is a frequent outcome of a herniated disc in the lower back. The pressure on nerves contributing to the sciatic nerve can result in pain, burning sensations, and numbness, which can radiate from the buttock to the leg and sometimes even to the foot. Typically, the pain affects one side of the body and can be described as sharp or electric shock-like, intensifying with standing, walking, or sitting. In addition to leg pain, lower back pain may also be experienced.

Cervical Spine (Neck): Symptoms of a herniated disc in the neck may manifest as dull or sharp pain in the neck or between the shoulder blades. This pain can radiate down the arm to the hand or fingers, accompanied by numbness in the shoulder or arm. The pain may intensify with specific neck movements or positions.


Diagnosis Of A Herniated Disc

Diagnosing a herniated disc is a multi-faceted process that involves a neurosurgeon's assessment. This assessment encompasses the patient's history, symptoms, a physical examination, and diagnostic tests such as:

  • X-ray: X-rays are used to visualize vertebrae structures and joint outlines to identify other potential causes of pain, like tumors, infections, or fractures.

  • CT Scan (Computed Tomography Scan): This diagnostic test employs computer-processed X-rays to reveal the spinal canal's shape and size, along with its contents and surrounding structures.

  • MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging): Using magnets and computer technology, MRI produces 3-D images that display the spinal cord, nerve roots, and adjacent areas, including any enlargement, degeneration, or tumors.


The majority of herniated discs can be managed without the need for surgery. Nevertheless, a small percentage of individuals with herniated discs may experience severe low back pain that significantly disrupts their daily lives.

Initial herniated disc treatment is generally non-surgical and conservative. Bed rest and maintaining a low, pain-free activity level are commonly recommended by physicians for a few days to several weeks. This allows the inflammation of the spinal nerve to subside.

Herniated discs with mild to moderate pain are often treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication. Epidural steroid injections may be performed under X-ray guidance, directing medication to the specific level of the disc herniation.

Physical therapy is a recommended approach in herniated disc treatment. Patients do not require a physician's referral to consult a spine physical therapist. A therapist conducts an extensive evaluation, complementing the doctor's diagnosis to create a tailored treatment plan. Therapy might include pelvic traction, gentle massage, ice and heat therapy, electrical muscle stimulation, and stretching exercises. Physical therapy, under the guidance of an experienced therapist specializing in spine care, offers a non-surgical and non-invasive means to address a herniated disc and facilitate the disc's natural healing process.


Concluding Remarks

In conclusion, comprehending herniated discs and their treatment is vital. Individuals experiencing shoulder pain or suspecting a herniated disc should seek prompt professional consultation. Our team of dedicated specialists is prepared to provide expert guidance and personalized care. We invite those impacted by pain to embark on the path to full mobility and a life free from discomfort. Your journey to a healthier, pain-free existence can begin with a simple appointment. Looking for herniated disc treatment in Fort Myers? Contact us today and let us collaborate to restore you to a life without pain.



About Author: Dr. Scott Gray

Dr. Scott Gray is an internationally recognized and expert physical therapist specializing in sport, athletic, and back and neck injuries. He is the inventor of a revolutionary form of treatment called the GRAY METHOD. This type of treatment unlike others, addresses the CAUSE rather than just your SYMPTOMS with a full body approach. For more information on how to ease or overcome your injury, go to


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