Herniated Disc

Sherwin Hua, MD

Neurosurgeon located in the Bay Area, California

A herniated disc can be unbearably painful and may become a chronic problem. Board-certified neurosurgeon Sherwin Hua, MD, is a world-leading pioneer in spine surgery and welcomes patients from throughout the Bay Area to his DimeSpine Neurosurgery practice, which has locations in Campbell, Hayward, San Francisco, and San Jose, California. Dr. Hua provides a comprehensive range of treatments for herniated discs, including his revolutionary approach to spinal surgery called the DimeSpine technique. Find out more by calling DimeSpine Neurosurgery today or requesting an appointment online.

Herniated Disc Q & A

What is a herniated disc?

Herniated discs are a common cause of both acute and chronic back pain. The discs in your spine provide cushioning and protection for the vertebrae. They’re made of a soft, flexible core surrounded by a durable shell, which, when you’re young, is quite strong. 

Over time, weak spots can develop in the outer shell, allowing the soft core to push through. This is a herniated disc. Disc herniation is most common in the cervical spine (neck) and lumbar spine (lower back). The main problem herniated discs cause is that they put pressure on the spinal nerves or the spinal cord.

Nerve compression or radiculopathy can cause pain, which may be severe, plus numbness or weakness in the legs. In some cases, both your range of motion and your mobility could be affected.

What causes a herniated disc?

A herniated disc occurs because of a weakness in the disc’s outer shell. This typically develops as part of the aging process. As you get older, spinal discs start to dry out and get thinner; a condition called degenerative disc disease. 

Cell renewal also slows down, so your body isn’t regenerating new tissue or repairing damaged areas as it would have during your younger years. When these age-related changes occur, the inner core of the disc can protrude through the weakened outer case. 

This can happen suddenly, for example, if you lift something heavy or awkward, and the disc ruptures. Or it could develop slowly over time, so the symptoms come on gradually. Smoking, being overweight, and repetitive strain can all increase your risk of having a herniated disc.

Dr. Hua diagnoses a herniated disc after carrying out a physical exam and reviewing pictures taken using diagnostic imaging, such as an X-ray or an MRI scan. 

How is a herniated disc treated?

Most patients who have a herniated disc recover using conservative treatments, such as:

  • Avoiding overexertion 
  • Pain medication 
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Anti-inflammatories
  • Use of ice packs 
  • Gentle heat 
  • Controlled exercise
  • Physical therapy

If your back or neck pain is severe or doesn’t respond to these initial treatment approaches, Dr. Hua can administer steroid injections to reduce pain and inflammation.

Might I need surgery if I have a herniated disc?

Most patients don’t require surgery when they have a herniated disc. Still, if your condition isn’t improving after following a conservative treatment program, surgery could then be an option worth considering.

Dr. Hua is a world-leading spine surgeon who can perform the most precise, minimally invasive procedures using the smallest incisions. He can carry out a discectomy to remove damaged discs using incisions the size of a dime, which reduces pain, minimizes tissue damage, and speeds recovery.

Dr. Hua can remove the herniated disc and fuse the vertebrae either side using a bone graft, or replace the disc with an artificial one. He also specializes in performing laminoplasty, which remodels a section of the vertebrae to make more room in the cervical spine.

If you have any symptoms of a herniated disc, call DimeSpine Neurosurgery today to arrange a consultation or request an appointment online.