Your backbone, or spine, is made up of 26 bones called vertebrae. In between them are soft discs filled with a jelly-like substance. These discs cushion the vertebrae and keep them in place. As you age, the discs break down or degenerate. As they do, they lose their cushioning ability. This can lead to pain if the back is stressed.
A herniated disc is a disc that ruptures. This allows the jelly-like center of the disc to leak, irritating the nearby nerves. A herniated disc can occur anywhere along your spinal column. If the bulging disc is pressing on a nerve, it will send shooting pains to the area connected to that nerve. A herniated disc in the upper or lower spine could weaken muscle groups in the arm or leg. The upper back discs of the thoracic spine could cause problems to the bladder or bowel, or shooting pains toward one side of the body.
Your doctor will diagnose a herniated disc with a physical exam and, sometimes, imaging tests. With treatment, most people recover. Treatments include rest, anti-inflammatory and pain medicines, physical therapy and sometimes surgery.
Source: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
Learn more about brain and spine neurological conditions at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
Why choose Ohio State for treatment of a herniated disc?
Comprehensive Care: The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Comprehensive Spine Center offers multiple treatment options for herniated discs. For the vast majority of patients, surgery is not necessary. But if your quality of life is compromised, our spine surgeons can address the most challenging surgical cases, assisting people who have not found help elsewhere.
Team Approach: With your input, our spine team works together with pain specialists, physical therapists and surgeons to formulate an individualized treatment plan for you.
Physical Therapy Expertise: Our physical therapists specialize in spine conditions, working with you one-on-one to alleviate pain and improve strength and coordination.
Surgical Expertise: If other treatments have failed and you require surgery, we have spine surgeons who are fellowship-trained in complex spine surgeries. We perform more complex spine surgeries than any other medical center in central Ohio.