The bones of your spine bear tremendous force while supporting your body and permitting flexible movement. Without the shock-absorbing and spacing effects of spinal discs, your life would be dramatically different.
You get a hint of this when neck or lower back pain appears as a result of a herniated disc.
A breakdown of the outer shell of the disc, herniation means that the soft inner gel can compress or irritate nerves, causing pain and other symptoms. Discs themselves have nerve tissue, another possible source of pain.
At Metro Anesthesia & Pain Management in West Des Moines and Des Moines, Iowa, we commonly use four effective treatment solutions for herniated disc pain. When rest doesn’t provide sufficient relief, make an appointment to find the best solution for you.
Spinal discs have two components. The annulus is the tough outer shell that surrounds the gel-like nucleus. Together, these components flex and compress as you move and function through your day.
As you get older, discs lose moisture and, therefore, volume. The annulus becomes increasingly dry and stiff. When you overstress your spine, the annulus can crack and split. The softer nucleus then pushes through these voids, creating a herniated disc.
This isn’t always a problem. You can have herniated discs without symptoms. Herniations can heal on their own, so you may never know there’s a problem.
Sometimes, though, the escaping nucleus pushes into spaces needed for nerve roots branching off the spine. Contact and compression of nerve tissue create problems, both pain at the site and additional symptoms along the length of the nerve downstream of the herniation.
Most cases of herniated disc resolve on their own. That can take weeks or months, potentially interfering with your daily life in the meantime. In a few cases, the problem may not heal or may leave behind pain symptoms even after the physical issue heals.
When conservative treatments like rest and time don’t resolve your pain, we often recommend these four treatment options.
One reason spinal discs may absorb damaging force is a lack of support from muscles in the back and core groups. Normally, spinal loads share between discs, bones, muscles, and other soft tissue, but if muscle elements get weaker with time, the spine itself must make up the difference.
Physical rehabilitation exercises perform two functions: strengthening support muscles and restoring lost range of movement.
Stem cells provide the raw materials for healing in your body, able to convert into the cells needed for repair. Adding to the resources naturally supplied through the blood, stem cell injections potentially increase the speed of healing.
Used as a chronic pain treatment, low doses of ketamine, a common surgical anesthetic, offer long-lasting pain relief after a series of intravenous (IV) infusions. Ketamine IV therapy is often a good choice for herniated disc pain.
Scrambling pain signals with low-level electrical current, spinal cord stimulation works well for people with chronic pain after a herniated disc heals. An implanted generator triggers probes at the problem spot, reducing or eliminating pain.
The right answer for you depends on your condition, its severity, and how long you’ve suffered. Book a consultation with one of our back pain specialists to learn more about these therapies. Contact the nearest office by phone or online to schedule your appointment today.