Diagnosis and Treatment of Herniated Discs

This Content Was Written For Your Tulsa Pain Doctor, Dr. Kris Parchuri

A herniated disc, also called a bulging disc, ruptured disc or slipped disc, occurs when the inner core of the spinal disc pushes out through the outer layer of the disc. Herniation describes an abnormality of the intervertebral disc that is also known as a “slipped,” “ruptured” or “bulging” disc. This process occurs when the inner core (nucleus pulposus) of the intervertebral disc bulges out through the outer layer of ligaments that surround the disc (annulus fibrosis). This tear in the annulus fibrosis causes pain in the back at the point of herniation. If the protruding disc presses on a spinal nerve, the pain may spread to the area of the body that is served by that nerve.

Usually, the main symptom is sharp, acute pain. In some cases, there may be a previous history of localized low back pain, with pain also extending down the leg served by the affected nerve. This pain is usually described as a deep, sharp pain, which gets worse as it moves down the affected leg. The onset of pain with a herniated disc may occur suddenly or it may be preceded by a tearing or snapping sensation in the spine, which may be attributed to a sudden rupture in the annulus fibrosis.

A patient with a herniated disc will usually complain of low back pain that may or may not radiate into different parts of the body, such as the leg. They will often demonstrate a limitation in range of motion when asked to bend forward or lean backwards, and they may lean to one side as they try to bend forward. Patients will sometimes walk with a painful gait, flexing the affected leg so as not to put too much weight on the side of the body that hurts. Straight leg raising may be a positive indication of tension on the nerve root.

Abnormalities in the strength and sensation of particular parts of the body that are found with a neurological examination performed by a doctor provide the most objective evidence of nerve root compression. An MRI is the test of choice for diagnosis of a herniated disc, but a CT scan (CAT scan) also may be helpful because it provides better visualization of the bony anatomy of the spinal column that indicates where the source of pressure on the nerve root is located.

Treatment for the vast majority of patients with a herniated disc does not normally include surgery. Most patients will respond to conservative therapy, such as medication, rest and physical therapy. Treatment is most effective when a patient and a doctor have a good relationship and the patient understands the rationale behind the prescribed treatment.

The primary element of conservative treatment is controlled physical activity. Usually treatment will begin with a modification of activity and then a gradual return to protected activities. Sitting, bending, lifting and twisting are not beneficial for this condition because they put a large amount of stress and pressure on the lumbar spine, which may increase the pressure on the affected nerve root. The appropriate use of medication is an important part of conservative treatment. This can include anti-inflammatory drugs, analgesics and muscle relaxants. Your doctor also may recommend an anti-inflammatory spinal injection for the area of the affected nerve root to lessen swelling and irritation caused by the damaged disc.

Surgery is typically recommended only after physical therapy, rest, and medications have failed to adequately relieve the symptoms of pain, numbness and weakness over a significant period of time.

State-of-the-Art Spine Care

This Content Was Written For Your Tulsa Pain Doctor, Dr. Kris Parchuri

Tulsa Spine Surgery was founded by Dr. Kris Parchuri D.O. as a a facility dedicated to spinal care in the state of Oklahoma. The approach of combining non-operative and operative care in one practice is what your need to reclaim your life from chronic pain. Tulsa Spine Surgery is one of the premier orthopedic centers in the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma. It has a history of providing the sophisticated, state-of-the-art spine care that one would expect if they were wanting the very best spine care. Dr. Kris Parchuri can be reached for a free consultation at 539-664-4448.

In this unique practice, our physicians integrate multiple areas of spine procedures to provide the best option for your care. Here, you are provided with not only an explanation of your problem, but also the rationale behind the treatment plan. Dr. Parchuri uses his training and experience to maximize the benefits of your treatment plan while minimizing risk. Whether you come to the Tulsa Spine Surgery as an injured worker, an injured athlete or as one of the eight in ten people who experience some type of back or neck pain in their lifetime, your situation is treated objectively. Worker’s compensation patients are given the same expert medical attention as patients suffering from sports injuries or chronic conditions. In all cases, you are seen as expediently as possible, and given a plan for recovering and getting back to work through successful treatment. We always strive to communicate well with all providers, patients as well as payers.

For over 25 years, patients have relied on Dr. Parchuri because they know they can depend on the expertise he has accumulated over the years. We offer patients the attention they need to understand their unique situation, and present them with the least invasive and most conservative treatment to alleviate their pain and restore function. We always try to provide treatment for all aspects of spine-related problems and disorders. These include, among others: Herniated Discs, Scoliosis, Degenerative Disc Disease, Failed Back Surgery, Tumors and Metastatic Disease, Infections, Complex Spinal Reconstructions, Fractures, Spondylolisthesis and Spinal Instability. Our rehabilitation and pain management physicians specialize in rehabilitating the musculoskeletal system, as well as treating: Arthritis, Soft Tissue Injuries, Back Pain, Complex Regional Pain, Peripheral Neuropathy and Fibromyalgia.

At Tulsa Spine Surgery, we have found that the majority of patients heal with non-operative, less invasive treatment. This type of care might include physical therapy, where the goal is to move from pain relief, to functional improvement, to strengthening. Treatment might also include medication or injections. Having a surgical consultation can be helpful even if it’s unlikely you will need to use that option. Once you have the information, you can make your decision. It’s all part of the open-minded approach that Dr. Parchuri uses to get the best results for his patients.