About Herniated Discs
A herniated disc is a condition that refers to a problem with one of the discs between the individual bones (known as the vertebrae) that stack up on top of each other to make your spine. Spongy discs called intervertebral discs are wedged in between the vertebrae that comprise the neck, thoracic region, and lower back. Most often, a herniated disc occurs when the gel-like substance in the middle of one of these spongy discs pushes through a tear in the tough exterior of the disc; this is called a herniated nucleus pulpous. This can cause patients a great deal of neck or back pain. Dr. Kendall Carll is a board-certified spine surgeon who has been practicing for more than 15 years in the Dallas, TX area. He diagnoses and treats herniated discs for patients of all lifestyles and offers both nonsurgical and surgical approaches for treatment.
"I recently experienced a pinched nerve that severely affected my ability to use my right hand. I contacted Dr. Carll who immediately went to work on my behalf. Knowing that this was a time sensitive situation Dr. Carll went out of his way to ensure that I received the appropriate MRIs, CAT scans, and nerve studies to properly diagnose my situation. After reviewing all the test Dr. Carll exhibited true professionalism and integrity by referring me out to Dr. Patty Young (I am so thankful for your referral) who specialized in the surgery that I would need. Dr. Carll could’ve chosen to operate because I had several degenerative disc, however he chose ethics over profit. Dr. Carll is a true professional that will put your health over profit! When it comes to your health there’s nothing more important than having a doctor that you can trust to be professional and ethical. Thank you Dr. Carll for providing me with both!"- K.H. / Google / Aug 29, 2018
"After being in pain for 3 years, my neck surgery changed my life!"- K.B. / Google / Apr 30, 2023
"Dr carrell read my chart even after not seeeing him for over one year and I appreciate that more than anything. Thank you!"- C.T. / Google / Apr 17, 2023
"Dr Carll treated a broken L4&5 on our teenage son years ago - and is helping me with a degenerative disc. The office is nice, the PA is wonderful, Miss Mary even called back to let me know the prescriptions were called in. Dr Carll was kind, helpful and professional. I couldn’t be more grateful as we work to reduce this pain. I highly recommend Dr. Carll."- A.B. / Google / Mar 27, 2023
"Had an excellent diagnosis, back surgery, and recovery. Dr. Carll must have done an excellent job because I was back on my racing bike for a (short) ride only 7 weeks after surgery - and after 3 months I was back up to 60 miles. 100% recommended."- W.S. / Google / Mar 17, 2023
Spinal discs play a crucial role in your spine’s ability to twist and flex forward and backward. They are engineered to endure tremendous amounts of stress. The discs have soft centers that are encased within tougher, banded exteriors. When the gel-like substance in the middle of the disc pushes through a tear, it can compress the spinal cord or the nerves that branch off either side of the spinal cord, creating an inflammatory reaction that can sometimes cause pain, numbness, or weakness in an arm or leg. Disc herniation is most often caused by the gradual, age-related wear and tear called disc degeneration. As you age, your spinal discs lose some of their water content. The dehydration makes them less flexible and more prone to tearing or rupturing in response to compression.
Reduce your risk for recurrent herniated discs by:
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Using back braces when engaged in heavy physical activity
- Exercising to strengthen your back and core muscles
- Maintaining good posture
Most herniated discs occur in your lower back (lumbar spine), although they can also occur in your neck (cervical spine). The most common symptoms of a herniated disc are:
- Arm or leg pain
- Sharp, stabbing lower back pain or sharp, stabbing neck and shoulder pains
- Numbness, tingling or muscle weakness in your arms or legs
- Limited mobility
- A dull ache that can become progressively worse
Depending upon the location of the herniated disc, it may cause only intermittent pain, such as with sudden movement, or even a sneeze (if the disc is in your neck, for example).
In most cases, Dr. Carll will be able to determine if a herniated disc is the cause for your back pain simply through a physical exam. To confirm the diagnosis, he may also order x-rays, a CT scan, or an MRI. In rare cases, he might recommend a CT myelogram. For this procedure, the dye is injected into the spinal fluid, followed by a CT scan. This test can show pressure on your spinal cord or nerves due to multiple herniated discs or other conditions. To determine how significantly the herniated disc is impacting the local nerves, Dr. Carll may also order a series of nerve conduction studies (electromyograms), which measure how well electrical impulses are moving along nerve tissue. This can help pinpoint the location of the nerve damage.
Another way to diagnose a herniated disc is to perform a discogram. A discogram uses a special needle to inject dye the suspected area of injury. With a discogram, Dr. Carll can directly identify cracks in the disc in order to pinpoint the cause of the pain. He will then be able to create a customized treatment plan to correct the disc.
Any time you experience neck or back pain that travels down your arm or leg, or pain that is also accompanied by numbness, tingling or weakness, it’s time to see the doctor. The good news is that conservative treatments such as heat or ice therapy, bracing, and following a planned exercise and pain-medication regimen will generally relieve the pain from a herniated disc in a few days or weeks.
In some instances, muscle relaxers and epidural injections can be used to ease pain caused by localized muscle spasms and inflammation of the nerve branch. Physical therapy is often used to help patients understand how to adopt better body mechanics, which may help to limit further stress on the herniated disc. With these treatments, two to three days of rest is also recommended.
If the pain from the herniated disc persists unabated after a few weeks, surgery is perhaps necessary. The surgical options for herniated discs depend upon where the herniation is occurring. Dr. Carll can make small incisions in the neck for cervical herniations or in the back for lumbar herniations. In either case, the surgeon can remove the entire disc, or merely remove the herniated section. Dr. Carll could also remove a portion of the vertebra, typically the lamina, or the entire spinous process with the lamina. This procedure creates more room for the spinal cord and branching nerves, which may have been trapped or impinged previously by the herniated disc.
For all these surgical procedures, the physician will likely perform some type of spinal fusion to stabilize the spine, and prevent further vertebral movements that would generate pain.
Heal Your Herniated Disc
Dr. Carll treats numerous patients who suffer from herniated discs. If you are experiencing neck or back pain from a possible herniated disc, there’s no need to delay any longer. Dr. Carll can develop a direct plan of action that will address your disc pain. We invite you to call our office for more information.