How Common are Disc Herniations?

How Common are Disc Herniations?

How Common are Disc Herniations?

2

 

Surprisingly,  I am rarely asked  questions about frequency of disc herniations.  But the answer is, it is very common. The better question is, “Is the disc herniation seen on the MRI the cause of my pain?”.  The answer to that question is maybe.

Research has demonstrated that findings of disc protrusions, disc hernations, and disc degeneration are very common finding in most people over the age of 50.  Because of these findings,  we often find ourselves blaming our pains on these disk anomalies.  While that may be true, in other scenario’s, it is not the case.

In fact, there has been studies on the incidence of these findings in our more active, or athletic population.  Surprisingly,  some studies have shown the incidence of advanced degenerative disk problems is not different from our less active population.

MRI’s have been very commonly used.  Without editorializing on the necessity of using this test,  we now have more and more information on the incident of spinal conditions in our population.  It turns out that there is a plurality of patients that have disc protrusion/hernation/degeneration.  Likewise,  we know that within your life time,  there is an 80% chance that each and everyone of us will have an episode of back pain that will limit our abilities to work,  and change our lifestyles for at least a few weeks.  But,  we still may not know if you back pain is caused by the findings on the MRI.  Usually, you will need a detailed examination to determine if the back pain is more that a pulled muscle, versus a significantly pinched nerve.

So,  when you have an episode of back pain,  while it is not a consolation at the time,  please understand that is an common experience by most of humanity.

But,  in rare occasions,  this back pain can be a more serious problem.  If you have severe pain, with associated weakness of the legs,  numbness, or loss of control of your bladder/bowels,  you must discuss this situation with your physician immediately. In the worse case scenario,  you need to be emergently admitted to the hospital for testing, and possible surgery.

If you do not have the above,  sometimes your physician may recommend some medications and gentle exercise or physical therapy.  But,  if you do not make improvement within a few weeks,  you should consider getting  further evaluations by a spine specialist.

Thankfully,  most episodes of back pain, and disc herniations usually can be managed with medications, activities modifications and therapy.  If you have questions,  please contact your physician.

 

Citations

  • Al-Ryalat NT, Saleh SA, Mahafza WS, Samara OA, Ryalat AT, Al-Hadidy AM. Myelopathy associated with age-related cervical disc herniation: a retrospective review of magnetic resonance images. Ann Saudi Med. 2017 Mar-Apr;37(2):130-137. PubMed PMID: 28377542
  • Liu C, Huang CC, Hsu CC, Lin HJ, Guo HR, Su SB, Wang JJ, Weng SF. Higher risk for cervical herniated intervertebral disc in physicians: A retrospective nationwide population-based cohort study with claims analysis. Medicine (Baltimore). 2016 Oct;95(41):e5055. PubMed PMID: 27741118

Submit a Comment

  1. Dr Shim

    As a personal injury lawyer I’m interested in proving if a disk injury was caused by trauma. Is there any way to objectively prove this . Most Doctor’s just give the reason as the history of the patient .

    1. Mr. Castelli,

      I did write you a response on the Google+ Spine Surgery Community. But, to your specific point, in the most perfect scenario, there is an MRI of the spine prior to the trauma. Then there is an MRI immediately after the trauma. There is then evidence that there is a change in the disk, which, if there is corresponding pain, can be objective evidence that the disk change was caused by the trauma. Rarely, however, is there evidence of acuteness of the disk, such as hemorrhage, or soft tissue edema around the disk. Usually, if this happens, there is an associated fracture or dislocation, or instability of that disk level, that would be evident on x-rays, and on flexion/ext views. Sometimes, secondary to spasms, Flexion/ext views are not possible. But, to your point, it usually does come down to history in relationship to the timing of development of disk related pain. In the end, it usually comes down to history, and credibility.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*
*

Disclosure Statement

The information provided on this website does not provide or should be considered medical advice. It is not a substitute for diagnosis or treatment of any condition. The information provided is for informational purposes only. You should not rely solely on the information provided on this website in making a decision to pursue a specific treatment or advice. You should consult directly with a professional healthcare provider.

As a condition of using the information on this website, ShimSpine and its physicians are not responsible for any advice, diagnosis, treatment or outcome you may obtain.

ShimSpine.com is completely self-funded. No outside funds are accepted or used. This website does not utilize paid advertising as a source of revenue.

This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
verify here.

Author and Contributor to www.Spine-Health.com – July, 2015

www.Spine-Health.com/author/john-h-shim-md-facs

Chief of Surgery, Mease Countryside and Mease Dunedin Hospitals, Safety Harbor and Dunedin, Florida. 2014-2016.

Orthopaedic Section Chief Mease Countryside Hospital; Safety Harbor, Florida Mease Dunedin Hospital; Dunedin, Florida.2008-2013

Board Member Morton Plant Mease Research Council

Co-Director of Mease Neuro-Ortho Spine Center Mease Dunedin Hospital; Dunedin, Florida.

One of “6 Spine Physicians Ranked #1 on Google” – December 2016

Top Ten Most Liked Spine Surgeons on the Internet – July 2016

2016 Spine Surgeons to Know list – January 2016

2014 Spine Specialists to know list – September 2014

One of Ten Leaders of Certified Spine Programs – December 2011

 
The information provided on this website does not provide or should be considered medical advice. It is not a substitute for diagnosis or treatment of any condition. The information provided is for informational purposes only. You should not rely solely on the information provided on this website in making a decision to pursue a specific treatment or advice. You should consult directly with a professional healthcare provider.

As a condition of using the information on this website, ShimSpine and its physicians are not responsible for any advice, diagnosis, treatment or outcome you may obtain.

ShimSpine.com is completely self-funded. No outside funds are accepted or used. This website does not utilize paid advertising as a source of revenue.
Outpatient Spine Surgery Considerations. www.Spine-Health.com. January 2016.

What is Spinal Stenosis? www.Spine-Health.com. October 2015.

Surgeon insights on the Changing Landscape of Orthopedic Care. OrthopedicToday. June 2014

Chapter 33: Interspinous Spacers. Shim JH, Mazza JS, Kim DH Published in Minimally Invasive Percutaneous Spinal Techniques. Elsevier Health Sciences, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Published 2011)

Chapter 35: Minimally Invasive Percutaneous Lumbar Fusion Technique.Shim JH, Mazza JS, Kim DH Published in Minimally Invasive Percutaneous Spinal Techniques. Elsevier Health Sciences, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Published 2011)

March 2010 Minimally Invasive Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Annual Meeting New Orleans, Louisiana February 2010

February 2010 A Review of Dynamic Stabilization in the Lumbar Spine Selby Spine Symposium; Park City, Utah

November 2009 Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Community Based Lecture; Tampa, Florida

September 2009 Instructor/Proctor Minimally Invasive Lumbar Cadaver Lab; Tampa, Florida

February 2009 New Spinal Technology: Cervical Disc Replacement and Interspinous Spacers. Selby Spine Symposium; Park City, Utah

February 2008 The Degenerative Spine: The Role of Dynamic Lumbar Stablization and Interspinous Spacers Selby Spine Symposium; Park City, Utah

October 2008 Emerging Technology and Techniques in Spinal Surgery Orthopaedics in the 21st Century Symposium; Morton Plant Mease Healthcare; Largo, Florida

September 2007 Emerging Technology in Spinal Surgery Orthopaedics in the 21st Century Symposium; Morton Plant Mease Healthcare; Largo, Florida

October 2006 Emerging Technology and Techniques in Spinal Surgery Orthopaedics in the 21st Century Symposium; Morton Plant Mease Healthcare; Largo, Florida

May 2005 The Role of Kyphoplasty in the Treatment of Vertebral Compression Fractures Mease Neurosciences Symposium; Clearwater, Florida
Please note all articles, blogs and Q&A’s on this site are general information and are not to be used as medical advice for individuals. No specific diagnosis or treatment should be made based on this information. Only a physician can provide you with advice specific to your situation. Please followup with your physician if you would like to discuss your individual condition.

If you are having a medical emergency,  contact your Doctor immediately,  or go to the Emergency Room.
ShimSpine and ShimSpine.com is committed to honoring and respecting the privacy and anonymity of the individuals using its website(s) and/or services. The purpose of this Privacy Policy is to inform the individuals about the collection, processing and protection of information done by ShimSpine what information we collect, why we collect this information and how we use this information.

This Privacy Policy will be reviewed regularly to reflect the up-to-date practices of ShimSpine.