Chicago based Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgeon - Conditions and Treatments

Herniated Disc


What Is a Herniated Disc?

A herniated disc is a condition that can involve any part of the spine, but is most common in the neck (cervical spine) or the lower back (lumbar spine). The spine is made up of a column of stacked bones called vertebrae. The vertebrae are separated by flat, gel-like discs that provide cushioning between the bones. The discs are made of a tough outer layer, called the annulus fibrosis, and a jelly-type center, called the nucleus pulposus. Over time, the disc begins to deteriorate, most commonly by drying out and shrinking. When this happens, the disc’s outer wall can become weak and tear, allowing the disc’s center to push out onto very sensitive spinal nerves, leading to pain and irritation. A herniated disc is a degenerative condition that can strike anyone.

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What Are the Symptoms of a Herniated Disc?


What Are the Causes of a Herniated Disc?


What Are the Treatments for a Herniated Disc?

Non-surgical Treatment

Most herniated disc patients do not require surgery. In these cases, the condition can be resolved through simple measures. These treatments may be prescribed in combination or individually, depending on your particular case, to ease irritation of the nerve and alleviate pain:

  • Reduced activity, including a neck collar
  • Physical therapy or exercise
  • Traction
  • Pain medication, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDS)
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Cold compresses or ice
  • Gentle heat
  • Steroid injections or “nerve blocks”
Surgery to Treat Cervical Herniated Disc

If conservative treatments fail to provide adequate pain relief or a patient continues to suffer from loss of function, spinal surgery may be recommended to repair the herniated disc. A large percentage of patients treated by Dr. Kern Singh at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush Minimally Invasive Spine Institute experience significant relief from pain after surgery.

Surgical procedures Dr. Singh may consider include:

  • Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF)
  • Artificial Cervical Disc Replacement
  • Cervical Laminotomy/foraminotomy and possibly a posterior discectomy