Your spinal column, or backbone, is made up of 33 bones called vertebra. Each vertebra is separated by a strong connective tissue called intervertebral discs. These intervertebral discs, as well as ligaments and facet joints, connect each vertebrae together. This system of bones, ligaments, and joints work in unison to help maintain your spine’s alignment and curvature and allows movement. Down the middle of the spinal column is an opening called the spinal canal where spinal nerves and the spinal cord are located.
What is a Herniated Disc?
A herniated disc occurs when an intervertebral disc in the spinal column becomes damaged or ruptured. There is a fibrous outer portion of your discs that, when ruptured or torn, will squeeze or bulge out into your spinal canal. That ruptured disc can press on nerves in the spinal canal causing pain. A herniated disc is also referred to as a herniated lumbar or ruptured disc. They are typically caused by excessive weight, aging and degeneration, and a sudden strain from not lifting heavy items correctly or from twisting too fast.
Signs of a Herniated Disc
Discs provide flexibility in the back (spine) and act as shock absorbers for the many bones we use every day. When a disc cannot provide flexibility and absorb shock, the bones in the spine (vertebrae) are not supported, and this leads to chronic pain. This may include muscle spasms, numbness, muscle weakness, and tingling in the legs or feet. You may also experience pain that radiates down to the buttocks, legs and feet which is called sciatica. Usually, there will be a direct correspondence between the location of the pain and the location of the disc that is herniated.
An untreated herniated disc could lead chronic back and leg pain as well as a loss of sensation in your legs or feet. At KureSmart Pain Management, we treat patients with herniated discs, allowing them to continue the lifestyle they led before chronic pain. Our physicians outline a treatment plan specific to your case, offering the most effective pain relieving methods. To seek relief from a herniated disc, contact KureSmart Pain Management and schedule a consultation.
As an occupational therapist, Sharon Burns had a good understanding of physiology. Her job also involved lifting heavy patients. This ultimately took its toll when, while dancing one night in 2002, her knees buckled and she first experienced intense pain in her lower back that radiated down her legs. She knew that something was very wrong.
In fact, Sharon had herniated discs at L4-L5 and L5-S2. This led to surgery which gave pain relief for a brief while. Within months of her first surgery, Sharon underwent a fusion with autograft. In this surgery, she experienced a large blood loss, spent time in the ICU and endured a 10 day hospital stay. Six months after the fusion, Sharon was in a car accident, aggravating everything! Her pain became intense and debilitating.
Ultimately, her hardware was removed. Her back pain worsened in winter‘s cold. The surgeons told her that there was no mechanical reason she should be in so much pain.
Throughout the ordeal, Sharon was given many medications for pain. Even when the pain was reduced, the side effect made it difficult to function. At its worst, her back pain left Sharon unable to work and unable to care for her daughter as the pain took all of her energy and focus.
Sharon became a patient of Dr. Paul Davies after hearing him speak on Kent Island. Together they came up a treatment plan: Medications have been greatly reduced. Sharon gets trigger point injections in facet joints to keep pain at bay. Making the most significant difference is the electrical spinal stimulator Sharon has had implanted. The stimulator electrode contacts are pinpointed to target the specific pain causing receptors, enabling her to be virtually pain free. Sharon is now gearing up to go back to work. She is having fun with her daughter just starting her Freshman year at Towson University! Through her pain ordeal, Sharon has learned that patients need to be involved with their own care. She knows that patients need to have a good comfort level with their pain specialist. For some patients, it can be a long term relationship.