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Did you know that herniated discs most often appear between the ages of 35 to 55? They’re also the top cause of sciatica, which causes searing pain that shoots down either leg. At South Denver Spine & Robotics, P.C., Zak Ibrahim, MD, offers comprehensive care for herniated discs, with specialized experience in advanced treatments that repair the problem and give you relief from the pain. To get help with back or neck pain, call the office in Centennial or Castle Rock, Colorado, or Garden City, Kansas, or request an appointment online today.
The discs between your spinal vertebrae have a tough outer layer that encloses a thick, gel-like fluid in the center. This unique design allows the discs to absorb shock, support spine movement, and stabilize your spine.
Over the years, daily activities take a toll on the discs, causing weak spots or cracks in the outer casing. When you move, pressure from the vertebrae forces the inner gel out through the weak spot. When the outer layer finally tears open, the gel leaks out, causing a herniated disc.
Herniated discs cause back or neck pain, depending on their location. As the gel oozes out of the disc, it irritates the nerves and causes inflammation or nerve damage.
When a nerve is affected, you can have symptoms that travel along the length of the nerve. You may experience pain, tingling, or numbness radiating down your arms (if the herniated disc is in your neck) or legs (when the herniated disc is in your lower back).
Nerve damage can also cause muscle weakness in your arms or legs. The weakness can affect your hands and feet, making it hard to grip items or lift your foot when you walk. In severe cases, you can develop problems controlling your bowels and bladder.
Your diagnosis begins at South Denver Spine & Robotics, P.C. with a physical exam that includes a neurological evaluation. During a neurological evaluation, Dr. Ibrahim tests your reflexes, muscle strength, sense of touch, and your ability to walk.
You may also need diagnostic imaging such as an MRI or CT scan. In some cases, Dr. Ibrahim does an advanced test called electromyography (EMG) to check nerve activity in your muscles.
In many cases, a herniated disc heals on its own, and you only need conservative treatment such as ice, heat, and over-the-counter pain relievers. Many people also benefit from structured exercise or physical therapy to improve spinal strength and movement.
When your pain persists or gets worse, Dr. Ibrahim talks with you about treatment options such as a microdiscectomy, disc replacement, or minimally invasive spinal fusion.
A microdiscectomy is a minimally invasive procedure in which he removes the damaged part of the disc through a small incision using a small tube and a microscope. That relieves your symptoms by taking pressure off the nerve.
You can go home the same day of your microdiscectomy. Since the procedure doesn’t cut the muscles, your recovery is faster compared to conventional spine surgery. But you do need to avoid prolonged sitting or heavy lifting for a short time.
Don’t keep struggling with back or neck pain from a herniated disc. Request an appointment today by calling South Denver Spine & Robotics, P.C., or booking online today.