The vertebral column in humans is divided into four distinct sections. Consisting of seven small bones, the lumbar spine defines the neck area. The atlas and axis are perhaps the most notable components of the lumbar spine. Featuring 12 bones, the thoracic spine runs just below the shoulder blades. Defining the lower back, the lumbar spine is made up of five bones that are quite thick in diameter. Fused to the hips and pelvis, the sacrum and coccyx make up the end of the spinal column. Below is more information about a common injury to this area, also known as herniated discs.
What Are Herniated Discs?
Every bone in the spinal column includes thin discs that are filled with gel-like material. This liquid substance provides a natural form of shock absorption. When a disc is deformed, it can exert excessive pressure on the nerves that run through the spine. Depending on its size and degree of deformation, a slipped or herniated disc can significantly affect the performance of the central nervous system. A person who has this problem may experience pain in the arms and legs. After all, there are many nerves that branch out from the spine to the rest of the body. Tingling, numbness and “pins and needles” sensations are commonly associated with a disc that pinches specific nerves.
Diagnosis of Disc Herniation
A traditional X-ray scan may not be effective at identifying the presence of a herniated disc. This imaging technology only generates clear views of the spine and other bones in the body. However, soft tissues are not visible on an X-ray image. An MRI or a CT scan has to be done to generate views of intervertebral discs. An orthopedic expert has the proper judgment to determine the slightest abnormalities of the discs in any part of the spinal column. Once the precise location of a herniated disc is identified, a treatment option can be prescribed.
Treatment of Herniated Discs
A long-term solution for severe disc herniation has to include some sort of invasive surgical procedure. Discectomy is a procedure that involves the partial or complete removal of a disc. The incision for this surgical operation is usually between 1 and 2 inches. A laminotomy is another effective way to reduce pain that’s caused by a herniated disc. During this process, a surgeon drills through the vertebral arches of spinal bones in order to reduce excessive hydraulic pressure that has accumulated. Since they don’t require general anesthesia, most surgeries for disc herniation are classified into the outpatient category.
Feel free to get in touch with our team at the office of Craig C. Callewart, MD, PA if you have any additional questions. We have two locations, one in Dallas and one in Addison for your convenience. Contact us today to schedule your consultation!