Back Pain? You May Have a Herniated Disc

According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, between 60% and 80% of people in the United States will experience low back pain at some point in their lives. Herniated discs are considered the cause in a high percentage of all sufferers.

The spinal column is made up of 26 bones, called vertebrae. In between the vertebrae are soft discs that cushion them. A herniated disc occurs when one of these discs rupture and begin to irritate nearby nerves. This can cause a person to experience arm or leg pain, numbness or tingling, and/or muscle weakness.

“Herniated discs commonly occur in the lower back, and often in the neck as well. In both instances, a herniated disc can be very painful,” explained Dr. Nader Paksima, Chairman of the Division of Orthopedic Surgery at Jamaica Hospital.

Dr. Paksima, adds: “With inflamed spinal nerves and intense pressure on these nerves, the pain experienced by someone with a herniated disc can be debilitating and lead to further problems.”

There are several risk factors that can increase the likelihood of suffering from a herniated disc. In addition to gradual wear and tear, the following risk factors can also cause a herniated disc:

  • being male
  • improper lifting
  • being overweight
  • repetitive activities that strain your spine
  • frequent driving
  • sedentary lifestyle
  • smoking

Being aware of these risk factors is extremely important as people can have a herniated disc, in the neck or back, without knowing it. Sometimes, spinal images show a herniated disc although the person has no symptoms.

Physicians can diagnose a herniated disc with either a physical exam or imaging tests. Most people usually recover with rest, pain and anti-inflammatory medicines, and physical therapy. In some cases, herniated discs are treated with surgery.

If you’re experiencing neck or back pain that travels down your arm or leg, or is accompanied by numbness, tingling or weakness, you should seek medical help. To schedule an appointment with one of Jamaica Hospital’s orthopedic surgeons, please call 718-206-6923.



All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.