October, 2020

Below are links to articles posted in October, 2020


When Is the Right Time to Seek Treatment for a Herniated Disc?

If you have back pain, it can be tough to decide when to throw in the towel and visit a medical professional. When will the conservative treatment methods like gentle exercise and over-the-counter pain medication be enough? Where do you draw the line?

Many patients suffering from a herniated disc face this very problem. The injury can sometimes be minor and easily treatable, but other times, a herniated disc requires surgery to prevent serious and permanent nerve damage. Here are a few tips to help you decide when it’s the right time to seek treatment for your herniated disc.

What Is a Herniated Disc and How Do I Remedy it at Home?

Before you decide to see a doctor, it’s important to understand herniated discs and why they occur. Sometimes called slipped or ruptured discs, herniated discs are extremely common and most often affect people aged 35 to 55.

The spine is made up of a series of individual bones called vertebrae that are stacked to form the spinal column. Between the vertebrae are intervertebral discs that essentially serve as cushioning pads. They have a soft, jellylike center encased in a tougher, rubbery exterior and act as shock absorbers for the body and spine. When pressure from the vertebrae forces some of the nuclei through a weakened or torn part of the hard exterior, it can press against the nerves near the disc. This can result in numbness and severe pain.

If you think you’ve suffered a herniated disc, there are a few home remedies that you can try:

  • Relieving inflammation: Applying a heating pad or ice pack to the affected area often works well. Also consider lying down flat on your stomach with one or two pillows under your hips for 20 minutes a day.
  • Over-the-counter medicine: In the case of minor-to-moderate pain, try over-the-counter pain medications like Advil and Tylenol
  • Exercising: Carefully exercising may also help relieve some of your pain by reducing pressure on the spine. Always consult a doctor for a list of appropriate exercises for your specific injury. Not doing so could result in further damage.

The Herniated Disc Symptoms That Necessitate a Visit to the Doctor

As a broad rule of thumb, if your herniated disc pain isn’t responding to medication and rest, it’s probably time to seek the advice of a specialist. It’s always better to be overly cautious than to suffer additional damage because you didn’t take the proper precautions. Any pain that’s new, intense, and generally worrisome should warrant a check-up with the doctor. An experienced spine specialist will be able to effectively diagnose and treat your condition.

If you suffer from any of the following symptoms, it’s probably a good time to seek medical attention:

  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Loss of feeling in your legs and feet
  • Pain and numbness on one side of the body
  • Back discomfort that that extends to your arms and legs
  • Pain that worsens at night, after standing or sitting, or with certain movements
  • Unexplained muscle weakness
  • Tingling, aching, or burning sensations in the affected area

Generally, discomfort from a herniated disc occurs in the lower part of your backbone, just above your hips, and spreads from your back to your legs, thighs, and calves. Pain typically worsens when you’re being active, but sometimes even seemingly minor movements can be uncomfortable, such as coughing, sneezing, and sitting.

Herniated discs can occur at any age, but they’re most common in adults aged 35 to 55, and factors like weight, genetics, and occupation can play a factor. Likewise, lifting heavy objects improperly, smoking, performing repetitive and strenuous movements, and putting sudden pressure on the spine can be the culprit of a herniated disc.

Treatment from a specialist can vary widely depending on many factors including your medical history and level of overall discomfort. Sometimes, patience and time are all it takes to remedy a mild herniated disc, but in more serious cases, surgery is required. Your doctor will best be able to dictate what approach is right for you based on the specifics of your injury.

Visit the Experts at New Jersey Spine and Orthopedic

If you’ve suffered a herniated disc—or if you feel pain in your back and are unsure of its diagnosis or how to treat it—consider the trusted medical professionals at NJ Spine and Orthopedic. Our experienced and board-certified neurologists, neurosurgeons, orthopedic specialists, and physicians will talk with you one-on-one about your specific injury or condition and treatment options that are right for you. We’ll always start with conservative methods before recommending surgery. Our team focuses on minimally invasive techniques that will reduce your pain and encourage faster recovery times.

Our medical team can help treat your herniated disc, relieve you of your pain, and get you on the road to recovery. If you think you may have suffered a herniated disc but are unsure the cause of your pain, take our free online Pain Assessment. If you know your condition but want to discover the appropriate treatment options, consider utilizing ourTreatment Finder. Otherwise, give us a call at (866) 272-9271 or complete our contact form today!


What Is the Difference Between a Herniated and Bulging Disc?

If you’ve ever had any back pain or know anyone that’s had back pain, then you’ve probably heard of herniated and bulging discs. Oftentimes, people mistakenly think that bulging discs and herniated discs are the same condition. While both can result in pain, there are key distinctions in the level of pain, type of symptoms, and the effects on the spine. It’s important to understand these differences to ensure you receive proper care.

What Is a Bulging Disc?

The spinal column consists of vertebrae and cushion-like discs that are stacked together, allowing the body to move freely and bend or twist with flexibility. These cushion-like discs are shock-absorbing fibers composed of a tough outer layer of cartilage known as the annulus, a jelly-like inner nucleus. They are positioned between each vertebra, preventing them from rubbing together. Over time, these discs may lose strength and become altered in shape, resulting in what’s known as a disc protrusion. That’s why it’s called a bulging disc.

Causes

Bulging discs can happen anywhere along the spine, from the lower back to the mid and upper back. This condition can happen to people of all ages, but it generally impacts aging individuals and those who have participated in long-term levels of physical activity. There is a multitude of reasons why someone might develop a bulging disc, including:

  • Poor posture
  • Trauma from an accident
  • Pre-existing injury/illness
  • Inactive lifestyle
  • Excessive weight
  • Smoking

Symptoms

If you have a bulging disc, you may experience little to no pain. This is because bulging discs only protrude from about 25 percent of a disc, rather than the entire perimeter of it. However, even if you do feel any pain, you likely aggravated the discs through some sort of strenuous activity. Everyone has a different pain tolerance, but you may feel anything from aches to sharp and crippling pain in your neck, shoulders, arms, and hands. The most common symptoms of bulging discs include:

  • Numbness or tingling
  • Trouble walking
  • Muscular weakness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Cramping

If you notice any of these symptoms worsen, it’s imperative to seek immediate medical attention as these symptoms resemble many similar spinal disorders. Untreated back and neck pain can result in permanent disabilities.

What Is a Herniated Disc?

A herniated disc, on the other hand, is typically more serious than a bulging disc. Essentially, herniated discs occur when the annulus is weakened, causing the nucleus of the disc to slip through and project into the spinal canal. Typically, herniated discs only impact one specific area, whereas a bulging disc may disrupt several. However, herniated discs are known to be far more painful than bulging discs because they protrude further and put pressure on nerve roots.

Causes

One of the most common causes of a herniated disc is degenerative discs disease. As we age, our discs wear out and flatten, putting pressure on other areas of the body for support and making the disc less effective at absorbing shock from movement. However, you can herniate a disc for several other reasons, including:

  • Injury
  • Overuse
  • Improper lifting technique
  • Excessive weight
  • Smoking

Symptoms

If you have a herniated disc, you may experience no symptoms at all. This is especially true if your disc doesn’t hit any nerves. Those more susceptible to pain usually feel intense discomfort. The most common symptoms herniated discs are known to produce include:

  • Sharp sciatica pain
  • Numbness or tingling down the arms, legs, and feet
  • Muscular weakness
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Loss of motion
  • Difficulty walking or standing

Treating Bulging and Herniated Discs

General treatment options for patients with mild to moderate pain include rest, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxers, chiropractic care, and steroid injections. When these treatments are unsuccessful in reducing pain, it may be in your best interest to undergo minimally invasive surgery.

Potential minimally invasive treatment options include:

Spinal disc disorders can disrupt your life in every way possible. An experienced spine specialist can present a broad array of specialized treatment options to treat your specific condition and pain so that you can get back to living your life to the fullest.

Determine the Source of Your Pain with an Exceptional Medical Team

Individuals with herniated or bulging discs should undergo a comprehensive evaluation to ensure they receive effective treatments, so as to not worsen their condition. The medical team at NJ Spine & Orthopedic—exceptional spine specialists with a multidisciplinary team of doctors, nurses, and surgeons—provides patient-centered, technologically advanced care for patients with disc-related spinal disorders.

From initial diagnosis to specialized treatment and rapid recovery times, patients who seek care from NJ Spine & Orthopedics are guaranteed a comprehensive, integrated care plan to tackle their health issues. To determine the source of your pain today, speak to our board-certified medical team by calling (866) 272-9271 or completing our contact form today!


Do I Have to Treat a Curved Spine?

Normal and healthy spines have a natural curvature. If you have a mild spinal curvature and you feel no pain, then you most likely don’t need to worry. However, if you start to notice the curve worsen, this might be indicative of a spinal deformity. When curves become too extreme, you may endure severe back and neck pain, and it may be difficult to maintain an erect posture.

In addition, abnormal curves can damage your spinal joints and surrounding muscles, resulting in a major spinal defect. Children who are entering adolescence may experience growth stunts and appearance deformities as they go through physical changes. If your spine is overly curved, you may wonder if you need to seek medical treatment. Unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer—it depends entirely on the nature of your spinal problem.

Three Main Types of Spinal Curvature Disorders

The spine consists of numerous vertebrae that stack on top of each other to allow you to comfortably stand, bend, and twist. Specifically, 33 individual bones protect and support the spinal column and allow the central nervous system to function properly.

However, body parts are more complex than that. The spine relies on all its components to work together smoothly, and even the smallest of abnormalities can disrupt the system. The three main types of spinal curvature disorders are:

  • Scoliosis: The spine curves sideways, making a C- or S-shaped curve
  • Lordosis: The spinal curve occurs in the upper back, pushing the head and shoulders more than 50 degrees forward
  • Kyphosis: The spinal curve occurs in the lower back, causing a large inward arch above the gluteal region

The most common form of spinal curvature disorder is adult-onset scoliosis, also referred to as degenerative scoliosis. In any one of these disorders, individuals can have prominent curvatures, as well as uneven body parts, weakness, and numbness.

Common Causes of Curved Spines

Identifying a specific cause of curved spines rarely happens. The science surrounding spinal disorders is still unclear, but it is believed that the most common causes of curved spines include:

  • Birth defects
  • Family history
  • Poor posture
  • Neuromuscular conditions
  • Osteoporosis
  • Weight
  • Age
  • Injury
  • Growth

If you suspect that you have an abnormally curved spine, visit an experienced spine specialist to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Detecting a disorder early on can prevent further complications from occurring or, at the very least, reduce their impact.

How to Treat Curved Spines

Mild to moderate forms of spinal curvature disorder may not require any extensive treatment. For smaller curves, a doctor may recommend a non-invasive treatment plan such as bracing, which will help slow down the bones from growing. If you have any discomfort or pain, a doctor may refer you to a chiropractic specialist to receive adjustments and pain management treatments. Another possibility is to see a physical therapist, as certain exercises are known to help reduce pain.

Debilitating spinal curvature disorders may require minimally invasive treatment, the most common being spinal fusion. The modern spinal fusion technique makes use of both a bone graft and hardware to secure the spine. Through two small incisions, the hardware is used to fuse vertebrae to the graft, forming a single bone. Once the graft heals, it restores your spine’s stability.

Spinal Curvature Disorders Treated by Expert Spine Specialists

Spine surgery has revolutionized through technology, and at NJ Spine & Orthopedic, we are proud to perform some of the most contemporary spinal surgical treatments using our state-of-the-art equipment. Our surgeries involve small incisions and minimal downtime so you can concentrate on getting back to your normal activities as fast as possible.

The award-winning, board-certified medical team at NJ Spine & Orthopedic can diagnose the source of your pain and offer you a detailed treatment plan, specific to your individual needs. Call (866) 272-9271 or complete our contact formtoday!


Should You Worry About Back Pain that Only Occurs on One Side?

Whether it’s a sudden sharp pain stemming from a traumatic injury or a gradually emerging condition as a result of old age, you can expect to experience back discomfort at some point during your life. In fact, back pain is one of the most common medical problems, affecting an estimated 8 out of 10 people worldwide. It’s certainly not fun, but it’s a familiar foe. When the pain is isolated to one side, however, you may start to worry. Is it normal when back pain occurs only on one side? Why is it happening? How do I treat it?

In short, it’s important to know that one-sided back pain is completely normal and remedying it can be as easy as 1-2-3. Learn the potential cause of your injury and the right treatment options for your specific condition.

What Is the Cause of My One-Sided Back Pain?

There are many reasons why pain may be isolated on one side of your body. From tissue damage to bone injuries, here are a few potential origins of your one-side discomfort:

  • Muscle strains or sprains: These injuries are the most common form of lower back pain and occur when you lift something improperly or overstretch your back muscles. Depending on where the injury occurred, pain can be isolated in a specific area of your back. Strains and sprains can range from minor to potentially critical, depending on the severity of the tear. If you’re experiencing excruciating pain or discomfort that lasts longer than a few weeks, call a doctor.
  • Sciatica: This is a condition that refers to pain radiating along the path of the sciatic nerve, which branches from your lower back through your hips, buttocks, and down each leg. This type of pain—which usually derives from a herniated disc, bone spur, or spinal stenosis—typically only affects one side of the body and can feel like a burning sensation. If you sense weakness or numbness on one side of your back that shoots down your leg, visit a medical professional immediately.
  • Herniated disc: A herniated disc is a condition that affects one of the discs in your vertebrae. When a fragment of the disc nucleus is pushed into the spinal canal through a tear or rupture, it’s considered a herniated disc. These bulging discs can push into your nerves, causing pain, numbness, and weakness in that particular area.
  • Damage to your internal organs: Pain on one side of your body may derive from damage to the organs in your mid-back, abdominal, and pelvic area, including your kidneys, pancreas, colon, and uterus. If this is the case, you may be dealing with infection, inflammation, or irritation. For example, kidney stones—hard deposits of minerals and salts from inside your kidney that can travel down your ureter to your bladder—are a common form of this type of injury and can cause lower back pain.
  • Bone issues: Arthritis, bone spurs, and spinal stenosis can cause pain on one side of the back. Discomfort can occur when your body overcompensates for bone pain on a certain side of your body—perhaps you’re putting more pressure on your right side when you walk—causing back pain on the left side of your body.

In general, mechanical problems with the spine, muscles, tendons, and ligaments are the main cause of back pain on one side of your body, though infections can be a variable as well. Often, pain from these injuries will go away on its own, but it depends entirely on the severity of the injury or condition. If you’re worried in any way, call a doctor.

How Do I Treat Back Pain That Only Occurs On One Side of My Body?

As a general rule of thumb, it’s important to consult your doctor if you feel pain that is new, intense, or troublesome in any way. Likewise, if the injury and resulting discomfort is affecting the way you approach your life–such as your job or day-to-day activities—seek medical attention. In the meantime, try these remedies:

  • Apply ice and heat to the injured area for 20–30 minutes at a time
  • Lightly and carefully stretch any tight muscles
  • Drink at least 64 ounces of water a day
  • Take over-the-counter pain medication such as Advil or Tylenol

Whether your pain is caused by an injury or an underlying condition, it’s important not to panic. Try a few home remedies and talk to a doctor who will better be able to inform you of the appropriate next steps.

Consider the Experts at New Jersey Spine and Orthopedic

If you’re experiencing pain on one side of your body and think you may need expert care, consider us at NJ Spine and Orthopedic. Our experienced and board-certified medical staff will carefully assess your current health condition or injury, consider your medical history, and provide practiced advice and care. Whether you’re in need of minor pain relief or a major, minimally invasive surgery, our neurologists, neurosurgeons, orthopedic specialists, and physicians will work together to help you on the road to recovery.

To discover the cause of your discomfort, take our free online pain assessment. If you know your condition and need help finding treatment options, consider using our Treatment Finder. If you have an MRI scan, get a free expert reviewon our website.

Our award-winning team of medical professionals is dedicated to eliminating your discomfort, shortening your recovery time, and helping you return to the pain-free life you once enjoyed. Give us a call at (866) 272-9271 orcomplete our contact form today