Herniated Disc Specialist

Ventura Neurosurgery

Neurosurgery located in Midtown, Ventura, CA

A herniated disc is a common cause of pain in the spine, especially in the lower back or neck. At Ventura Neurosurgery, in Ventura, California, David Westra, MD, a board-certified neurosurgeon, and Michael Dorsi, MD, provide non-surgical and surgical treatments for herniated discs. Call or book an appointment online today for expert care of herniated discs.

Herniated Disc Q&A

What is a herniated disc?

Discs provide cushioning between your vertebrae, which are the bones that make up your spine. Each round disc has a tough outer layer and a soft gel-like center called a nucleus. 

A disc herniates when part of the nucleus pushes through a tear or rupture in the outer layer and protrudes into the spinal canal. This condition is also known as a ruptured disc. 

What causes a herniated disc?

Herniated discs can happen suddenly from an acute injury, such as a car accident, or from excessive strain like lifting something heavy. 

However, spinal discs naturally degenerate and weaken with age. When this happens, even a minor strain or unnatural twisting movement can cause a herniated disc. 

What are the symptoms of a herniated disc?

Herniated discs cause pain when they press on spinal nerves. A disc can herniate anywhere in your spine, but it’s more common in the lower back (lumbar spine) and neck (cervical spine). 

Symptoms vary based on the location and size of the herniation, but may include:

  • Low back pain
  • Sciatica pain
  • Neck pain
  • Numbness or tingling in the leg or arm
  • Muscle weakness in the leg or arm

A herniated disc is a common cause of radiculopathy, which is a pinched nerve. Sciatica is a form of radiculopathy that affects the sciatic nerve, which originates in the lumbar spine and runs down the back of each leg.

How are herniated discs diagnosed?

First, the team at Ventura Neurosurgery reviews your symptoms and medical history and performs a physical exam. They may take an X-ray to evaluate your vertebrae, but a herniated disc doesn't show up on this test. 

To confirm your diagnosis, your neurosurgeon may order other imaging tests, like an MRI or CT scan. They may also measure your nerve functioning with a nerve conduction study or electromyogram.

How are herniated discs treated?

The team at Ventura Neurosurgery uses conservative treatments whenever possible. Non-surgical treatments for a herniated disc include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication
  • Epidural steroid injections
  • Physical therapy

If conservative treatments aren’t effective, they may recommend surgery. The team at Ventura Neurosurgery has extensive expertise with various minimally invasive spine (MIS) surgeries that treat herniated discs, including microdiscectomy, transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (MIS TLIF), and extreme lateral interbody fusion (XLIF). 

They also perform artificial disc replacement. In some cases, open spine surgery may be necessary.

For expert care of herniated discs, call Ventura Neurosurgery, or book an appointment online today.