Herniated Disk Specialist
Herniated discs are responsible for many cases of chronic back pain. If you're struggling with symptoms of a herniated disc, orthopaedic spine specialist Evan O'Brien, MD, and Chris Hennessey, PA, at Woodbury Spine can help. At their practice in Woodbury, New Jersey, they offer surgical solutions, including microdiscectomy and laminectomy, as well as a range of nonsurgical treatments. For the effective resolution of your herniated disc pain, call Woodbury Spine today to book an appointment.
Herniated Disk Q & A
What is a herniated disc?
The discs in between your vertebrae are spongy pads
with a soft inner core and tough outer shell.
Herniation occurs when the jelly-like center pushes
through a weak spot in the exterior of the disc.
You could suffer a herniated disc at any point along
your spinal column. However, the condition most
often affects the cervical (neck) vertebrae or the
lumbar (lower back) vertebrae.
The tissue damage can be painful, but one of the
main problems with a herniated disc is that the
protruding core presses on nerves coming away
from your spinal cord. This nerve pressure can
cause tingling, numbness, and weakness, as well
as severe back pain.
What causes a herniated disc?
A trauma such as an auto accident can tear the outside fibers of the disc called the annulus. Sometimes, the nucleus can come out of the disc. The most common cause of a herniated disc is a lifting injury. Some discs herniate without a specific injury.
Degenerative disc disease develops over time as a result of the aging process. Your discs have a high water content when they're in their prime, making them plump and elastic. As you get older, the water content decreases, and the discs flatten and lose their elasticity.
Weak spots develop in the outer layer of the disc. The core presses against these areas causing them to bulge, and in some cases, the vulnerable tissue gives way, allowing the center to push through.
What treatments might resolve a herniated disc?
For some patients, Dr. O'Brien finds that a course of physical therapy, activity modification, and medication is sufficient to relieve herniated disc symptoms.
For patients whose pain persists, epidural steroid injections can effectively relieve inflammation, or you might benefit from radiofrequency ablation to deaden the nerve endings.
If your herniated disc is particularly severe or resistant to non-surgical treatments, you might need to undergo surgery. Dr. O'Brien offers several surgical options for herniated discs:
Microdiscectomy involves removing only the damaged section of your disc using high-powered magnification. Sometimes this can be performed through a small tube the size of a pencil using an endoscope to visualize the problem disc. Other times, open surgery through a 1.5-inch opening is a better technique to ensure complete removal of the problematic disc fragment.
Discectomy and fusion
When a herniation occurs in someone who already has severe back pain from advanced degenerative disc disease, Dr. O'Brien removes the damaged disc and inserts a structural implant and bone graft that permanently joins the vertebrae on either side. Dr. O'Brien specializes in techniques that include ACDF (anterior cervical disc fusion), ALIF (anterior lumbar interbody fusion), TLIF (transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion), and LLIF ( lateral lumbar interbody fusion).
Artificial disc replacement
Dr. O’Brien will sometimes implant a prosthetic disc after a discectomy. An artificial disc enables you to move your spine more naturally but isn't appropriate for all patients. This technique is selected when there is a disc herniation pinching a nerve with little evidence of arthritis.
For expert relief from the symptoms of a herniated disc, call Woodbury Spine to book an appointment.