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Herniated Disk

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Herniated Disk

Herniated disk treatment

BayCare Clinic Neurological Surgeons offers treatment for herniated disk, a source of lower back pain and sciatica.

 

It also is known as bulging disk, compressed disk, prolapsed disk, ruptured disk, slipped disk, herniated intervertebral disk or herniated nucleus pulposis.

 

Disks cushion the 26 vertebrae, or bones, in your spine. Think of them as shock absorbers. They also keep the vertebrae in place.

 

A disk is cartilage fiber filled with a gel-like substance. When disks break down or degenerate, they no longer provide cushioning. This often is caused by normal wear and tear as people age.

 

A herniated disk occurs when a disk ruptures. The gel-like center of the disk leaks, irritating spinal nerves and causing lower back pain. A herniated disk also can cause sciatica, or lumbar radiculopathy, which is pressure on the spinal nerves that causes pain radiating down a leg to the foot.

 

Herniated disks are diagnosed via a physical exam, or by imaging tests if necessary.

 

Treatment for a herniated disk can include rest, pain and anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy or surgery. We offer lumbar microdiscectomy, a minimally invasive procedure, to treat lumbar radiculopathy.

 

Dr. Richard Harrison on lumbar microdiscectomy

 

Cauda equina treatment

Just below the waist, the spinal cord separates into a group of long nerve roots (cauda equina) that resembles a horse’s tail. In rare instances, a herniated disk can compress the cauda equina. If that happens, emergency surgery may be needed to avoid permanent weakness or paralysis.

 

When to seek emergency care

Seek emergency medical attention if you have:

  • Worsening pain, numbness or weakness to the point that you cannot perform daily activities
  • Bladder or bowel dysfunction
  • Loss of sensation to the inner thighs, back of legs and buttocks

Resources

U.S. National Library of Medicine health topics: Herniated disk

American Association of Neurological Surgeons: Herniated disc

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BayCare Clinic, baycare.net, is the largest physician-owned specialty-care clinic in northeastern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It is based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. BayCare Clinic offers expertise in more than 20 specialties, with more than 100 physicians serving in 16 area communities. BayCare Clinic is a joint partner in Aurora BayCare Medical Center, a 167-bed, full-service hospital. Follow BayCare Clinic on Facebook and Twitter.