Herniated Disc and Neck or Back Pain

Neck and back pain are extremely common, affecting over 90% of adults at some time in their live. One of the causes of neck and back pain is a herniated disc, also commonly referred to as a “slipped” disc. The spine is a bony canal that protects the spinal cord within. Between the vertebral bones of the spine are soft pad known as discs. These allow the spine to flex and bend while maintaining protection for the spinal cord.

Occasionally these discs can rupture or herniate, causing the disc material to press against the spinal cord or nerve roots. Disc herniation can occur from improper lifting of a heavy object, repetitive strenuous activity, or pressure on the disc from movement or excessive body weight.

Neurosurgery Herniated Disc Photo

Symptoms of neck disc herniation include:

  • Shooting pain or weakness in one arm
  • Headache in the back of the head
  • Burning sensation in the neck, shoulder or arm

Symptoms of lower back disc herniation include

  • Sciatica, or shooting pain from the buttock down the back of the leg
  • Pain, tingling or weakness in one leg
  • Burning sensation in the neck

Non-surgical treatment can include rest, ice compresses followed by heat, pain relief and anti-inflammatory medication. Surgery is necessary if the disc is compressing a nerve or the spinal cord. Surgery on cervical, or neck discs often involves removing the disc and stabilizing the spine. Lower back disc herniation can be managed with micro-discectomy or laminectomy, which remove bone to relieve pressure.

For a herniated disc, Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion procedure, or ACDF, removes damaged disc tissue and stabilizes the spine. ACDF can also be used to treat degenerative disc disease or to remove bone spurs.