Herniated Discs: Treating Complicated Back Issues

If you conducted a poll that asked people what the most frustrating ongoing condition they could have is, it’s fair to say you would get many people that said chronic back pain. Back pain is really in a class of its own when it comes to frequency, lack of explanation, trial and error treatment options, and the sheer number of causes. If you strain yourself, you can injure your back. If you’re sedentary, you can injure your back. If you’ve ever suffered with serious back pain, you know it renders you essentially immobile or at least unable to comfortably function in any real capacity.

While there are many causes of back pain that bring their own frustrations and treatment options, let’s focus on what happens if you have a herniated disc. Herniated discs are one of the most common conditions that affect the back. Just because you’re not feeling symptoms today doesn’t mean there isn’t something structurally off right now that could lead to complications later. That, unfortunately, is the nature of our spines. Additionally, what can cause you pain today may not necessarily cause you pain next week. Back pain can come and go for a number of reasons. It can also return seemingly out of nowhere.

Back pain is a leading contributor to missed work days. This is bad for everyone to say nothing of our own personal comfort. That’s why it’s so important to get the proper treatment to address a herniated disc. Relief is possible, though it is often a process. Multiple treatment options will be explored in order to help you find some comfort. Here is what you need to know about herniated discs and what you can expect when you speak to your doctor about your back pain.

Why a herniated disc can cause so much pain

Discs are important structures in your spine. They are the spongy matter that fits between each vertabrae. They essentially provide us with our range of motion and flexibility. Like with most parts of the body, we can’t function when bone is on bone. This is when pain and inflexibility kicks in. Our discs protect our spine from sudden jolts or impact that would otherwise jostle the vertabrae if they weren’t present. Healthy discs are even what allow us to walk comfortably. If you think about it, without that support, even the simple fact of standing too long would put excessive pressure on our spine. That’s why it’s so uncomfortable and painful when a disc moves out of place, no matter how slightly. Once a disc herniates, it can create pressure on the surrounding soft tissue and nerves. This is where that painful sensation comes from. In some instances, a disc can even rupture. The gel that makes up the center of the disc can leak out and cause irritation in the spine.

How does a disc move out of place?

Any kind of significant strain or compression can cause a disc to move out of place. Typically, it happens as a result of an accident. A fall or a car crash can certainly cause it. Weight lifters experience herniated discs if they put too much strain on their backs while training. We generally associate herniated discs with being overextended or from suffering a sudden, violent jolt that shocks the spine. However, this isn’t always the case.

Disc herniation becomes more likely as we age because of how our bodies begin to break down through unavoidable wear and tear. You don’t need to be an athlete or suffer an accident to slip a disc. Being overweight and even smoking are big risk factors. Smoking, like age, makes our discs thinner and more prone to injury. Repetitive motions can cause it as well as sitting or standing too long.

What is treatment like?

Treatment is a multi-part process. Medication to reduce pain, and especially inflammation, is an important first step. Alternating heat and cold for the inflammation is also key. Mostly, your doctor will direct you to do certain stretching exercises to strengthen the back and shore up support. Physical therapy is often recommended for continued maintenance. If you don’t respond to medication, cortisone injections can help. Surgery is often the last resort due to it being an invasive procedure. Part of the disk may be removed or replaced entirely with an artificial disk.


Accepting back pain as just a fact of life isn’t the right approach. For your health, you need to speak to a medical professional about the possibility of a herniated disc. Relief is possible with early intervention and the use of various treatment options. If you suspect you have a herniated disc or you suffer with back pain in general, contact us today to schedule an appointment. The team at Acadiana Neurosurgery is here to provide you with the care you need so you can go back to living a life without debilitating back pain.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Six Myths and Facts About Brain Aneurysms

Brain aneurysms are the stuff of legend, with stories of people who are fine one moment and in excruciating, life-threatening pain the next. While there may be some truth to this, the larger truth behind a brain aneurysm is, thankfully, far less dramatic.

What Is Post-Concussion Syndrome?

People often recover from a concussion within a week or two, but post-concussion syndrome can often take a lot longer. Your doctor can work with you to find effective treatments to help you manage your symptoms while you heal.

Our Locations

Choose your preferred location