As an athlete and former ER nurse, I’ve witnessed how a herniated disc can take a toll on my friends and colleagues. Back pain is a familiar foe that many folks confront at some point. One of the culprits behind this debilitating condition is a herniated disc, also referred to as a slipped or ruptured disc. Essentially, it happens when the soft inner part of a spinal disc protrudes through the tough outer layer and compresses the nerves in the spinal column. It can be an excruciating experience that can disrupt your life, your career, and your goals.
So, what exactly is a herniated disc?
A spinal disc is a cushion-like structure that sits between the vertebrae in the spine, acting as a shock absorber and allowing for flexibility in the spine. Each disc has a soft inner core called the nucleus pulposus and a tough outer layer called the annulus fibrosus. A herniated disc occurs when the nucleus pulposus pushes through a tear in the annulus fibrosus and compresses nearby nerves.
What causes a spinal disc to herniate?
Herniated discs can be caused by a variety of factors, including aging, injury, and genetics. As we age, the spinal discs lose water content and become less flexible, increasing the likelihood of tears and ruptures. Falls, car accidents, heavy lifting, and repetitive motions that strain the spine can also contribute to herniated discs. Many of us have seen colleagues and friends struggle with the pain and discomfort associated with this condition and hope that we can avoid the same fate.
Here are some measures to prevent a spinal disc herniation:
Good posture: spinal alignment will keep the structures of the spinal column in place and train the paraspinous muscles to support an erect back.
Regular exercise: both cardiovascular and strength training will allow your spine to remain flexible and resilient.
Lifestyle factors: healthy diet, hydration, and avoiding toxins like smoking will contribute to the stability of your spinal discs.
When a disc herniation occurs…
The occurrence of disc herniation can be unfortunate and may happen despite best efforts to prevent it. The conventional treatment for herniated discs focuses on reducing pain and inflammation and includes rest, pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, steroid injections, and physical therapy. In severe cases, surgery may be recommended, although it is not always necessary and carries risks such as infection, bleeding, and nerve damage. Herniated discs can be a challenging condition to manage, and some patients may not respond to treatment.
Discectomy is the typical surgical intervention for herniated disc, with the aim of removing only the protruding section of the disc. In some cases, however, small amounts of spinal bone and ligament may also need to be removed to access the herniated disc. If the entire disc must be removed, the surgeon may fill the space with a piece of bone, either from the patient, cadaver, or synthetic material. The adjacent vertebrae are then fused together using hardware. The recovery time after surgery may take up to 8 weeks for the patient to return to work.
Although discectomy usually results in reduced herniated disk symptoms, particularly in patients with clear signs of a compressed nerve, such as leg pain, it may not provide a lifetime cure for the underlying cause of the injury or herniation.
RMRM Regenerative Solutions…
The providers at RMRM have treated countless patients experiencing back pain with shockwave therapy and stem cells after the traditional interventions fail. The most robust treatment we offer is Stem Cell Therapy for back pain. This therapy involves harvesting your own stem cells from your adipose (fat) cells, processing them, and injecting them into the joint. This non-invasive treatment is considered safe with minimal side effects, and minimal downtime or restrictions. The mesenchymal stem cells are harvested from your own adipose (fat) tissue through a liposuction procedure. The stem cells are then isolated and reinjected into the damaged tissue with precision under ultrasound or fluoroscopy guidance.
Dr. Vassily Eliopoulos of RMRM has published the largest study on the efficacy of Stem Cell Therapy in degenerative lumbar spine disorders.
Stem cells have been shown by research and our real life clients to repair damaged joint tissue, reduce inflammation, and regenerate weak spinal joint spaces. Stem cells secrete growth factors that promote tissue repair, regeneration, and decrease inflammation. By injecting stem cells into the joint, it is possible to stimulate the body’s natural repair mechanisms and promote healing.
At RMRM, we want to help you heal your herniated disc and strengthen the muscles that support your spine. Regenerative therapies can help you get back to the things you love with those who matter most.