Herniated Disc Specialist

Portland Neurosurgery

Board Certified Neurosurgeon & Spine Surgeon located in Portland, OR

Did you know that most herniated discs first occur between the ages of 35 to 55? And as if the back pain isn’t bad enough, a herniated disc in your lower back is the top cause of sciatica. At Portland Neurosurgery, Jeffrey Johnson, MD, has extensive experience helping patients recover from herniated discs. Dr. Johnson accurately diagnoses the presence of a disc herniation and treats it with nonsurgical therapies before recommending surgery. If you have questions or you need to find relief from ongoing back pain, call the office in Portland, Oregon, or schedule an appointment online today.

Herniated Disc

What causes a herniated disc?

The discs in your spine consist of a tough outer cover (annulus) that encloses a softer substance (Nucleus). Over the years, the outer cover loses moisture, degenerates, and develops weak areas. A herniated disc occurs when the outer cover ruptures and the substance inside spills out. Oftentimes we find that herniated discs run in families, meaning if your parents or grandparents have had them, then you are at a higher risk to have them as well.

What symptoms develop if I have a herniated disc?

Pain is the primary symptom of a herniated disc. The severity of your pain can vary from mild to excruciating, while the type of pain ranges from an ache to a sharp, electric-shock pain.

Herniated discs commonly pinch the nerves. Compressed nerves cause symptoms such as pain, tingling, a burning sensation, or numbness that travels along the path of the nerve.

If your herniated disc is in your neck, you may have pain that radiates down your arms. A disc problem in your lower back results in pain shooting down your legs. In severe cases, you can develop muscle weakness, foot drop, or lose control of your bladder and bowels.

How is a herniated disc diagnosed?

Dr. Johnson most commonly will recommend that you have an MRI or CT myelogram to evaluate the discs and nerves in your spine. He may also perform electromyography and nerve conduction studies to evaluate the electrical activity in your muscles.

How is a herniated disc treated?

Whether you have a herniated disc in your neck or back, Dr. Johnson begins your treatment with medications, steroid injections, and physical therapy. Oftentimes herniated discs can resolve with this type of treatment. If these therapies don’t help, he may recommend an epidural steroid injection.

If your pain symptoms still persist, surgery is the next option. Dr. Johnson often performs a microdiscectomy to remove either the damaged portion or the entire disc. 

If the herniated disc is in your neck and surgery is performed, you may need a spinal fusion or artificial disc replacement to maintain spinal stability. During a spinal fusion, Dr. Johnson places a bone graft from your own body between the two vertebrae. As the vertebrae grow new bone over the graft, the two bones fuse and create one strong bone.

Some patients with cervical (neck) disc herniation may be a good candidate for an artificial disc replacement rather than a fusion. During this procedure, called cervical disc arthroplasty, Dr. Johnson places an artificial disc between the vertebrae. The new disc restores stability and maintains movement between the bones. 

You can get relief from a disc herniation from the experts at Portland Neurosurgery. To schedule an appointment, call or book an appointment online today.