Tuesday, May 29, 2018

5 Signs You May Have a Herniated Disc—and What to Do About It

Your spine is strong and flexible, but the discs that cushion your vertebrae are highly susceptible to damage. They can get torn through impact, ripped by a bone spur, or just frayed over time with everyday use. When a disc becomes so damaged that the tough outer tissue tears and leaks its gel-like center, it causes a painful condition known as a herniated disc.

It’s possible for this condition to show up on an MRI or CT scan without any accompanying symptoms. But chances are, if you have a herniated disc, you’re going to feel it. Your symptoms will depend on the exact level of the spine where the disc herniation occurs and whether or not it’s affecting nerve tissue.

To help you know what to watch out for, here are five of the most common symptoms of a herniated disc—and how to find the care you need.

1. Spinal pain
A disc herniation can cause local pain at the affected level of the
spine—anywhere from the neck to the lower back.

2. Shooting pain down one side of the body
If the disc herniation is large enough, the tissue can press on the adjacent spinal nerves and cause shooting pain on one side of the body (referred to as sciatica). For instance, if you have a herniated disc between the fourth and fifth lumbar vertebrae of your lower back, you may experience shooting pain down your buttock into the back of your thigh and down your leg. The pain often worsens upon standing, and decreases when lying down.

3. Numbness, weakness, and tingling
Whether or not you’re feeling pain from a herniated disc, other uncomfortable symptoms like weakness, tingling, and numbness can arise virtually anywhere throughout your body—and most often in the legs. 

4. Stiff neck
If the disc herniation occurs in the cervical spine, you may feel pain shooting down one arm, causing a muscle spasm or stiff neck.

5. Severe pain in one or both lower extremities
In severe cases, a herniated disc can press on spinal nerves on both sides of the body. This can cause debilitating pain down one or both lower extremities, with marked muscle weakness and sometimes incontinence.

Recovering from a herniated disc

In most cases, a herniated disc will not require surgery. This condition can often be cared for with over-the-counter pain medications, physical therapy, and other non-surgical options.

One of the most innovative treatments for herniated discs is stem cell therapy. This safe and minimally invasive treatment option harnesses your body’s natural healing abilities to help relieve your pain and encourage the affected tissues to repair themselves.

During a 15-minute outpatient session, your doctor will remove mesenchymal, non-embryonic stem cells from your bone marrow, circulating blood, or fat tissue. Then, while you relax comfortably under local anesthetic, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is injected directly into the affected area, which stimulates the tissue to regenerate more effectively. Since the stem cells are taken from your own body, the risk of an adverse reaction is very low.

While you may experience some soreness near the injection sites, the recovery time from stem cell disc therapy is minimal. With a gradual decrease in pain and improvement in mobility, many patients experience noticeable results within six to eight weeks—even after a single treatment.

A herniated disc can be painful, but hope is on the horizon. To learn more about stem cell disc therapy, or to find out if this treatment option is right for you, contact us today.

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