South Florida Orthopedics Explained: The Herniated Disk

At some point in their lives, most individuals will experience back or neck pain that makes many daily activities difficult to do. A common source of back or neck pain is the herniated disk. Interchangeably called a “slipped disc,” “bulging disc” or a “pinched nerve” by the South Florida orthopedics expert, a herniated disk most often occurs in the lower back due to the load that area bears. However, the condition also sometimes affects the upper back and smaller disks in the neck.

In order to understand how discs herniate, you’ll first want to understand the basic anatomy of the spine. Our spines are made up of vertebrae that are stacked on top of one another, creating a canal that protects the spinal cord. In between the vertebrae are flexible disks that act as shock absorbers when you walk or run. Intervertebral disks consist of two components: a tough, flexible outer ring and a soft center, similar to a jelly donut with a tougher outside shell and a squishy center.

In many cases, a herniated disk can be traced to the natural aging of the spine. As we get older, our disks begin to dry out and weaken, and may tear. Just like a jelly donut that accidentally gets squashed, an injured disc can bulge or even herniate to the point where the softer center actually squirts out. Either way, a nerve can be compressed and produce radiating pain, weakness or numbness.

Most of the time, the physicians at Fort Lauderdale Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine can successfully treat disk problems with non-surgical treatment. If you are currently experiencing numbness, tingling, weakness or shooting pain in the back or leg, or burning pain and numbness in your neck, shoulder or arm, a herniated disk could be the cause. Call our office today at (954) 400-5544 to schedule an appointment, where we can conduct a thorough physical examination and testing to pinpoint the cause of your pain and get you “back on track”!

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