Herniated discs occur when the disc’s jelly interior pushes on the disc’s outer ring. Also called slipped or ruptured discs, these types of herniations are common in the lower, or lumbar, back. When severe, the interior may push entirely through the outer ring.
Spinal discs act as cushions between your vertebrae and provide space between the spinal bones, allowing movement and flexibility. When one of these discs herniate, it bulges out between the vertebrae and puts pressure on your spinal column and nerves.
Herniated discs often result from aging. As you age, your spinal discs get dehydrated. As that occurs, your discs weaken and shrink, reducing the cushioning and spacing between the vertebrae. As a result, the bones then migrate closer together, placing pressure on your spinal cord and nerves.
A specific, stressful event can also cause lumbar herniated discs. You may herniate a disc when lifting a heavy object or during a slip and fall. By contrast, these painful discs can develop over time, with your discomforting getting more frequent and severe as the condition progresses.
Risk factors can increase your chances of developing herniated discs. The most prevalent risk factors include:
Many herniated discs improve within three to four months. To promote disc healing, Dr. Shifflett recommends a few days of bed rest when you experience severe back pain.
Once your pain is manageable, take breaks throughout the day to rest and don’t sit for extended periods of time. Avoid movements that cause your pain to worsen. Dr. Shifflett may prescribe at-home exercises that build strength in your lower back and abdominal muscles.
For a herniated disc that doesn’t improve on its own, Dr. Shifflett may advocate for microsurgery. During this minimally-invasive procedure, called a microdiscectomy, he removes the herniated part of your disc and any other material compressing your spine.
When back pain stops you from enjoying your favorite things, find a solution with a fellowship-trained spine surgeon like Dr. Shifflett. Call the office to schedule or book online.