About Herniated Discs

What is it and what are your treatment options?
Anchorage: (907)562-2277
Wasilla: (907) 357-2267
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What is a Herniated Disc?

The bones that form the spine in the back are cushioned by small spongy discs and when these discs are healthy, they act as shock absorbers for the spine and keep the spine flexible. But when the disc is damaged, it may bulge or break open. This is called a herniated disc and it may also be called a slipped or ruptured disc.

You can have a herniated disc at any part of your spine, but most herniated discs are located in the lower back (lumbar spine) or neck (cervical spine) and rarely in the upper back (thoracic spine).

Common Causes:

  • Common causes of a herniated disc include:
    Wear and tear of the disc
  • Age
  • Injury

Symptoms you should look for are:

  • Pain and numbness in buttock area and extremity
  • Numbness or weakness in the extremity

If you have weakness or numbness in both legs along with a loss of bladder or bowel control, you need to seek medical care right away. This could be a sign of a rare but serious problem called cauda equina syndrome.

When diagnosing a herniated disc, The OPA Spine Team:

  • Obtains a complete medical history
  • Performs a physical examination
  • Orders and analyzes but additional testing such as an MRI or a CT scan will help confirm the herniated disc or rule out other health issues that may be causing these symptoms.

Common Treatments:

Treatment for disc herniations can vary depending on the location of the herniated disc and the severity of the herniation.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs)

Medications decrease inflammation and pain

Physical Therapy

An OPA approved physical therapist prescribes and monitors strengthening and stretching exercises.

Injections

An injection of steroid and anesthetic medications.

In cases where non-surgical treatments have not resolved the symptoms of a herniated disc, our Spine Team Specialists may discuss the option of a surgical procedure. Unlike in years past, most spinal procedures can now be performed using a minimally invasive approach that requires only a small incision and significantly expedites recovery time.
While there are several Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery options for a herniated disc, the goal for any of these procedures is to remove the herniated portion of the disc(s) and alleviate pressure on the spinal nerves.

Our Board Certified and Fellowship Trained Orthopedic Spine Surgeons are among the most experienced anywhere in Alaska and are experts in Minimally Invasive Spine Surgical procedures.
At OPA, our Board-Certified and Fellowship-Trained Team Specialists, Dr. Mark Flanum, Dr. James Eule, and Dr. Curtis Mina are experts in treating herniated disc.

To receive an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment plan, please make an appointment with one of our Spine Team Specialists at our offices conveniently located in Anchorage and Wasilla, AK.

Schedule An Appointment

To receive an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment plan, please make an appointment with one of our Orthopedic Team Specialists at our offices conveniently located in Anchorage and Wasilla, AK.

Anchorage: (907)562-2277
Wasilla: (907) 357-2267

OPA Spine Team

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Dr. James Eule

Orthopedic Spine Specialist

Dr. Mark Flanum

Orthopedic Spine Specialist

Dr. Curtis Mina

Orthopedic Spine Specialist

Sean Taylor, MD

Pain Management

Our Mission

To provide the finest orthopedic surgery and musculoskeletal care in North America, offering general and specialized adult care to all Alaskans and visitors.

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