How do I know if I have a herniated disc?
Actually, it's more likely that you don’t!
Sure, there are symptoms like low back pain that travels down the leg (sciatica), numbness and tingling in the arms, hands, legs or toes, weakness of grip, foot drop, night pain, antalgia (leaning away from the pain), abnormal reflexes, swelling, and pain when laughing or coughing (positive Valsava test), BUT you can have these signs and symptoms and NOT have a disc herniation.
Unfortunately, you can have a herniated or bulging disc and have no symptoms at all. That’s right…there is a certain segment of the population that is walking around with disc herniations and will never know it. If we were to pull 10 random people off the street and check them for disc herniation with MRI (the gold standard diagnostic test) we would find a few that had them and where asymptomatic. This is what makes herniated disc treatment so difficult and why surgery should be considered a last resort (in my opinion).
The reason I say this is because even after an MRI demonstrates disc herniation it’s still possible the disc herniation is not responsible for your symptoms. There are just too many cases of failed back surgeries out there. The worst thing that can happen with back surgery (spinal fusion) is to have the back pain return. Some back pain gets worse.
What we recommend (if possible) is a more conservative approach that would include chiropractic, physical therapy and non-surgical spinal decompression. The machine we use is the DRX-9000. Spinal decompression machines are designed and built to treat cervical and lumbar disc herniations and bulges non-surgically. The results are outstanding.
About 12 years ago we began to incorporate the DRX-9000 into our treatment protocols. During this time we have helped thousands of herniated disc patients return to more normal lifestyles. Hundreds of these patients avoided surgery, and many have done our treatment post-surgery (surgeries without fusion).
If you have had a spinal fusion you are permanently disqualified from ever trying spinal disc decompression. This is why surgery should be a last resort.
If you live in San Francisco or have the ability to stay here for an extended period we would like to discuss your disc herniation with you.