Disc Herniation

Steel City Spine and Orthopedic Center

Spine & Orthopedic Surgeon in Pittsburgh, McKees Rocks, and Washington, PA

Disc herniation is a widespread back problem that’s responsible for many cases of neck and low back pain. If you have disc problems, fellowship-trained spine and orthopedic surgeon Jocelyn Idema, DO, at Steel City Spine and Orthopedic Center specializes in resolving the pain and loss of function that disc herniation can cause. Dr. Idema has exceptional skills in performing disc replacement surgery and other surgical interventions if nonsurgical approaches aren’t providing relief. Call the office in Pittsburgh, McKees Rocks, and Washington, Pennsylvania, today or book an appointment using the online form.

Disc Herniation

What is a disc herniation?

A disc herniation is a common cause of back and neck pain, and it’s the result of a rupture in a disc between two of your vertebrae. 

Disc herniations most often affect the cervical discs in your neck and the lumbar discs in your lower back. Herniated discs are less common in your upper back (thoracic spine).

Spinal discs act as shock absorbers between the vertebrae. They help to decrease the stress between your vertebrae and allow for movement of your neck and back. 

In most cases, spinal discs weaken and wear out over time because of years of wear and tear. This leads to a condition called degenerative disc disease.

As the discs continue to weaken, they eventually tear or rupture outward. If the herniated disc protrudes far enough, it can press on your nerves and spinal cord, causing painful and unpleasant symptoms.

What are the symptoms of disc herniation?

Cervical disc herniation often leads to neck pain and symptoms such as:

  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Weakness

These sensations typically radiate down your arms into your fingers. Lumbar disc herniation causes similar symptoms, but the sensations can extend into your hips, buttocks, and legs instead of your arms.

Nerves have both sensory and motor functions. Disc herniation can affect one or both of these functions and cause symptoms that range from mild to severe. Nerve compression can ultimately lead to permanent damage if the pressure is both prolonged and severe.

How is disc herniation treated?

You have a number of treatment options, depending on the symptoms you’re experiencing.  Usually, Dr. Idema’s patients recover from disc herniation after a course of conservative treatments such as anti-inflammatories and other medications, physical therapy, and steroid injections.

For the most part, these conservative measures can take care of the majority of your symptoms without you ever needing to undergo surgery. 

However, depending on the severity of your symptoms and how long you’ve had a disc herniation, you might need to undergo more aggressive measures.

When might I need surgery for disc herniation?

Dr. Idema might recommend surgical intervention if all of the conservative measures fail to resolve your symptoms. 

In her expert hands, surgery for disc herniation has a high success rate and can usually take care of most of your symptoms. Surgeries that can treat disc herniation include:

  • Microdiscectomy
  • Lumbar laminectomy (open decompression)
  • Lumbar fusion surgery
  • Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF)
  • Artificial disc replacement surgery

Dr. Idema specializes in carrying out minimally invasive spinal surgery (MISS) for disc herniation. 

She uses state-of-the-art implants like the BRYAN® cervical disc replacement from Medtronic, Mobi-C® cervical disc replacement from Zimmer Biomet, and the activL® artificial lumbar disc from Aesculap® Implant Systems. She also performs ACDF surgery using the Solitaire-C™ stand-alone cervical interbody fusion from Biomet.

If you’re experiencing back or neck pain, call Steel City Spine and Orthopedic Center today or book an appointment online.