Lumbar and Cervical Herniated Discs
Dr. Howard Liss treats disorders that cause pain and disability by providing consultative services and soft tissue and joint injections when needed. When medically appropriate, he makes specific referrals for diagnostic testing (lab work, imaging, electrodiagnosis), physical and occupational therapy, interventional procedures (epidurals and facet joint injections), and surgery.
Comprised of five segments including the cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacrum and coccyx, the human spine is specially designed to support the weight and movement of different parts of the body. Yet, it is the soft, padded discs located between each vertebra that make it possible for the body to perform tasks and everyday activities. Thus, when a disc herniates, or protrudes, it may begin to affect the surrounding space, including the spinal nerves.
While disc herniation can occur at the cervical, thoracic or lumbar levels of the spine, most cases occur at the cervical and lumbar areas. The majority (90%) of the cases are reported in the lumbar region. There is more intervertebral disc material in the lumbar spine when compared to the cervical spine. In addition, the lumbar spine naturally absorbs more force than the cervical spine.
The severity of a herniated disc depends on whether it is impinging on the surrounding structures or nerve space. For instance, if the herniation does not affect the nerves, individuals may experience mild, temporary bouts of pain that subside within two weeks. Yet, when pain worsens or persists, it is most likely due to nerve impingement, necessitating some form of treatment.
Non-Surgical Treatment for Lumbar and Cervical Herniated Discs
When disc herniation irritates the spinal nerves, causing pain and discomfort, physiatrists understand that to improve a patient’s level of functioning, they must determine a specific back and neck pain treatment that first reduces pain and inflammation. While medication, the use of ice packs and epidural steroid injections prove to lessen pain and increase movement, these non-surgical treatments also provide pertinent diagnostic information. This information enables physiatrists to develop an ongoing rehabilitation program that optimizes patient care.
With an improved level of functioning, patients can better tolerate rehabilitation and other modalities including physical and occupational therapy, exercise, relaxation and massage therapy. A team of medical specialists, clinicians, therapists and interventionists administer treatments. Under the direction of the physiatrist, these professionals provide rehabilitation services to patients while teaching them how to maximize their level of functioning long-term. Some examples include educating the patient on proper body mechanics, making adjustments to the patient’s posture, teaching appropriate stretching for specific activities or wearing back braces or orthotics.
Because physiatrists assume a multidisciplinary approach to the treatment of lumbar and cervical herniated discs, treatment is not determined solely according to the patient’s symptoms. In the same way, physiatrists rarely turn to surgical means first.
At the Howard Liss, M.D. Rehabilitation Institute, patients can rely on Dr. Liss to put together the right treatment, therapy and rehabilitation plan to ensure the most optimal outcome. Dr. Liss works closely with other specialists required to rehabilitate patients suffering from chronic pain or serious injuries, and Dr. Liss will refer patients as needed to ensure appropriate treatment. With extensive education and exposure to a variety of conditions that affect the cervical and lumbar spine, bones, nerves, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, brain, and spinal cord, Dr. Liss is uniquely positioned to help patients manage their pain and maximize their functioning.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Liss, contact the Howard Liss, M.D. Rehabilitation Institute today.