Understanding disc-related back pain


EDWARDSVILLE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Nearly 66 million American adults suffer from back pain. The discomfort can be disabling. It’s the leading cause of disability for people under 45 years of age. 

Back pain can result from injury like sprains and strains but sometimes it’s because of problems with the spongy, soft tissue called discs within your spinal column. Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller spoke with a pain intervention physician about disc problems and how to treat them.

Using a lumbar spinal column model, Commonwealth Health Dr. Fred Usoh, MD demonstrated how a healthy spine should work. But for many of us, our backs aren’t in good working order. “Often at times, you have a back problem when there’s a disc herniation,” he said. 

Those discs, the shock absorbers between your vertebrae, can herniate, slip or bulge. You’ll feel it when a disc pushes on a nerve root. “It irritates the nerve acutely. That tends to go for a long time.” The discomfort can spread from your lower back to your lower extremities.”The pain tends to go down the leg. Commonly we call this sciatica,” said Dr. Usoh who added that “People have problems raising their leg. It can be very painful when you walk.”

Pain, numbness, tingling or weakness from disc problems can also target your hip and other areas of the body. “If your herniation is higher up in the spine, it tends to go to the groin” said Dr. Usoh who often takes minimally invasive action with his patients when those nerves are so inflamed. “We can help this kind of pain by doing what we call interlaminar epidural steroid injection by going into this little space and deposit medication. Some goes down, some goes up.”

Interlaminar epidural steroid injections cool off inflamed nerves. Patients who receive the injections usually experience decreased pain and increased mobility. Physical therapy is often prescribed afterwards. “With time, the disc herniation will resolve itself and it gets better.” In some cases, surgery is recommended to remove herniated discs.

What Dr. Usoh recommends to all of us is to take better care of ourselves. Spend less time sitting and slouching, lose excess pounds and exercise regularly to strengthen your back and core muscles.  

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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