The highly skilled and well trained neurosurgeons at Marina del Rey Hospital evaluate patients with spinal disc displacement and provide an individualized treatment advice for each patient. They can choose from the various nonsurgical and surgical treatment options available. The treatment that works best for your symptoms and severity of disc displacement is considered.
Disc displacement is a condition in which the soft disc present between the vertebrae of your spine is forced out of place. The spinal disc is filled with a jelly-like material and provides a cushioning effect to the vertebrae and keeps them stacked to make up your backbone. With advancing age, these discs may rupture or degenerate losing their cushioning ability. The jelly-like substance may get displaced from a weakened portion of the disc leading to pressure and irritation of the nearby nerves of the spinal cord. This causes pain and numbness in the arm or leg. Disc displacement is common in the lumbar spine (lower back), and may also occur in the cervical spine (neck).
Spinal surgeries are performed only when conservative treatment methods have been ineffective in relieving pain. Surgical treatment may be considered if a disc fragment dislodges into the spinal canal causing pressure on a nerve and resultant loss of function. Surgical treatment options for lumbar spine include microdiscectomy or laminectomy, which depend on the size and position of disc displacement. In cases of cervical disc displacement, procedures like ACDF (anterior cervical discectomy and fusion) are recommended.
All these surgical procedures will be performed under general anesthesia mostly on an outpatient basis (some cases would require an overnight stay at the hospital). You will be able to return to work within 2-6 weeks after the surgery.
Surgical approaches for the treatment of lumbar disc displacement include:
Lumbar discectomy: There are 2 options – microdiscectomy and endoscopic (or percutaneous) discectomy.
Surgical approaches for the treatment of cervical disc displacement include:
Surgical approaches for the treatment of thoracic disc displacement include:
Surgical treatment is considered for thoracic disc displacement when there is myelopathy, progressive lower extremity weakness, and pain that do not get relieved with conservative treatment. One of the below-mentioned techniques may be used.
Your doctor may suggest a short period of rest and pain relieving medicines as initial treatment for disc displacement. This may be followed by physical therapy. Most patients are able to recover with these treatments and get back to normal routine. A few cases may need other treatments such as steroid injections.
Disc displacement is classified into three types as lumbar, cervical, and thoracic disc displacement, based on the affected portion of the spine.
The most common symptom of disc displacement is pain that typically occurs only on one side of the body. The pain gradually increases in severity, and may even become worse on standing/sitting, at night, while sneezing, coughing or even laughing, when walking, and bending backwards.
Symptoms of slipped disc in the lower back include:
Symptoms of slipped disc in the neck include:
Your doctor will perform a careful physical examination and take a detailed medical history before ordering diagnostic tests. The physical examination involves evaluation of neck, shoulder, arms, lower back, legs, and feet depending on your symptoms. The doctor will check for numbness, muscle reflexes (slow or missing), muscle strength, and will examine your posture. You may be asked to sit, stand, and walk on toes and then on heels. You may also be asked to bend forward, backwards, and sideways, raise the shoulders, elbow, and hands to check for strength while performing these activities.
If you feel leg pain while sitting down on an examination table or while lifting your leg upwards, it is an indication of disc displacement in the lumbar spine.
In most instances, a displaced disc is attributed to the natural aging process of the spine. As one grows older, the water content of the discs gets reduced because of which the discs turn weak. This aging process is termed, 'disc degeneration'.
In addition to the normal wear and tear that occurs with advanced age, other factors that increase the chances of having a displaced disc include:
The disc may move out of its place as a result of injury or strain. Slipped discs most commonly occur in middle-aged men or older men, generally following a strenuous activity. Other causes may include congenital conditions that alter the size of the lumbar spinal canal.
You will be advised to try alternative treatment before considering the surgical means of treatment. These include:
Use of proper lifting techniques and maintaining proper weight can help avoid back injury. Here are some preventive measures that can help avoid disc displacement:
Are you suffering from low-back pain? For any questions, information or guidance related to disc displacement, consult our specialty-trained, skilled neurosurgeons at Marina del Rey Hospital.