Man having back painA herniated disc occurs when one of the discs in your lower spine becomes inflamed and ruptures out of its casing. While it usually occurs in the lower back, it can affect any area of the spine. The condition can cause pain, numbness, and weakness that can travel through your leg or arm, resulting in serious discomfort and a reduced overall quality of life.

Herniated discs are among the most common back injuries, yet many people don’t know much about them. There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about herniated discs, which can cause stress and misunderstanding for someone who is experiencing chronic back pain and thinks they may have one. That’s why we’ve debunked five of those myths to bring some clarity to this complex condition.

Myth #1: If You Have Back Pain, It’s a Herniated Disc

While back pain is a symptom associated with herniated discs, there are many causes of back pain besides herniated discs. Most people experience back pain from time to time, ranging in severity. If you are experiencing back pain, you shouldn’t jump to conclusions about what’s causing it. It is best to visit your doctor and have them evaluate it if the pain persists.

Myth #2: Imaging is the Only Tool Needed to Identify Your Pain

Even though the advanced MRI technology utilized by top spinal neurologists can spot herniated discs, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is the cause of your pain. The MRI can spot many abnormalities such as disc protrusion, disc bulging, or disc degeneration. These are normal issues that happen with age, and often don’t cause any pain. The best way to identify the cause of your pain is to be evaluated thoroughly by a specialist, who has the training and experience to accurately identify a herniated disc as opposed to other spinal abnormalities.

Myth #3: Sneezing Can Cause a Herniated Disc

This may sound silly, but many people believe that a sneeze can cause a herniated disc. If you experience back pain after a dramatic sneeze, it is most likely due to underlying back issues. Many people can have a weakened or injured disc without any pain or symptoms. So if a sneeze or other sudden movement triggers a pain response, it can often be the result of a disc injury that you weren’t aware of, as opposed to the sneeze itself.

Myth #4: Discs Can “Slip” Out of Place

Many people refer to a herniated disc as a “slipped disc,” and they believe that a disc literally “slips” out of place. Discs are attached to two ligaments that hold them tightly in their place, called the anterior longitudinal ligament and the posterior longitudinal ligament. The disc also has a tough exterior that surrounds and protects the nucleus pulposus. It would hardly be possible for a disc to slip out of place since it is so securely held. In reality, a portion of the nucleus pushes through a crack in the annulus, causing the herniated disc.

Myth #5: You’ll Have Permanent Disability or Mobility Limitation

Those with herniated discs often fear that they will be permanently put on the sidelines from their daily activities. While the injury can cause pain and discomfort, it is possible to return to everything you once did. In fact, stretching and exercise are often good solutions to the pain associated with herniated discs. Surgery and other, non-invasive treatments can also aid in pain relief and offer a solution to the problem. Surgery options available for herniated discs include:

  • Lumbar Discectomy - A procedure in which your surgeon would remove material from your herniated disc that frees the nerves in your lower spine affected by that disc.
  • Lumbar Laminectomy - A procedure in which parts of the vertebra will be removed rather than parts of the disc in order to alleviate pressure.

If you feel that your condition requires surgical treatment, Dr. Michael Verdon at Dayton Neurological Associates can perform these surgeries, as well as non-invasive procedures like radiculopathy.

Herniated discs can be painful, but you shouldn’t have to put your life on hold because of them. If you are experiencing back pain or suspect you have a herniated disc, Dr. Verdon at Dayton Neurological Associates offers multiple treatment options to help you live comfortably.

Dayton Neurological Associates provides Dayton, OH with pain relief, neurosurgery, and concussion care. With cutting-edge diagnostics and high success rates, Dr. Michael P. Verdon improves patients’ function and quality of life. We offer services ranging from lumbar discectomy surgery to kyphoplasty. If you would like to schedule an appointment, schedule one online today, or contact us at (937) 797-3137 for more information.