Conservative Medical Care for Disc Problems in Monmouth & Ocean County

Avoid surgery with a moderate, multi-disciplinary approach.

Discs rest between each of the vertebrae (bones of the spine) and are composed of an outer shell that is designed to protect the inner, gel-like portion of the disc, known as the nucleus pulposis. They perform several important functions:

• Provide shock absorption for the spine;

• Allow for movement of the vertebrae; and

• Act as a ligament to hold the spine together while keeping the bones separated.

When a disc is damaged, the outer shell may rupture, allowing for the soft, inner portion to bulge out. This occurrence can lead to severe pain, caused by the herniated disc putting pressure on the nerves of the spine.

The symptoms of a herniated, or bulged, disc will depend entirely on where the problem has occurred. Herniated discs can happen in any part of the spine, but most frequently affect the lower back (lumbar spine). Occasionally, herniated discs occur in the neck (cervical spine) and, more rarely, the upper back (thoracic spine).

For example, if the herniated disc occurs in the lower back, symptoms may include back pain, leg pain, bowel/bladder problems, numbness, and/or weakness.

What causes a herniated disc?

Disc Degeneration: In childhood, discs are made up of approximately 80% water. As the body ages, this percentage decreases as a natural part of the aging process. As the discs dry, they become less flexible and more vulnerable to damage.

Injury or Trauma to the Spine: Trauma may occur over time (as the result of consistently poor posture, for example) or from an abrupt occurrence such as an auto accident or sports injury.

Medical Care for Bulged or Herniated Discs

Disc problems have three basic levels of severity: a disc bulge, in which the inner portion of the disc bulges out of the protective covering; a disc herniation, a condition that occurs when the center of the disc bulges out and moves more significantly backward toward the spinal cord; and a disc dessication, a serious condition that often leads to immediate surgery.

Most cases of disc problems, however, do not require surgery. Medical specialists trained in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (Physiatrists) are experts in treating disc problems and helping patients avoid surgery. This type of physician focuses on conservative pain management and rehabilitation strategies; Physiatrists are ideal practitioners for patients who wish to avoid unnecessary surgeries or the harmful use of painkilling medications.

For example, the Medical Director at our Monmouth & Ocean County pain management facility might use any of the following options in the treatment of disc problems:

• Physical Therapy;
• Spinal Decompression;
• Acupuncture;
• Spinal Manipulation; and
• Epidural Steroid Injections: In some cases, herniated discs can cause enough pain that patients are unable to withstand any of the above rehabilitative practices. A Physiatrist may then choose to perform Epidural Steroid Injections, a minimally invasive procedure that reduces inflammation (and therefore pain) in the spinal nerves. This practice delivers a long-lasting corticosteroid and an anesthetic numbing agent to the spinal nerve through the epidural space. The epidural space is the area between the protective covering of the vertebrae and spinal cord. The goal of this treatment is to relieve pain so that patients may rehabilitate the healthy way—with physical therapy, traction, etc.—instead of resorting to surgery or drugs.

Fluoroscopy and Epidural Steroid Injections

Epidural Steroid Injections are performed with the help of Fluoroscopy, an imaging technique that provides real-time, moving images of the affected body part. This type of imaging allows the physician to view the insertion of the needle to ensure that the medication is delivered as closely to the inflamed nerve root as possible.
Medical Care for Disc Problems at Monmouth Pain & Rehabilitation

Our Medical Director performs a number of minimally invasive procedures. These might include Epidural Steroid Injections; Facet Injections (a long-lasting corticosteroid and an anesthetic numbing agent to relieve back pain caused by inflamed facet joints); Sacroiliac Joint Injections (for pain in the lower back); Trigger Point Injections; Radiofrequency Lesioning; and Image-Guided Peripheral Joint Injections.

Contact our Monmouth & Ocean County, NJ facilities to learn more about pain management strategies for disc problems. Our multi-disciplinary facility offers a number of non-invasive, healthy treatment options for disc problems in Shrewsbury, Freehold, Wall, and Lacey NJ.