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Herniated Disc Specialist

J. Rafe Sales, MD -  - Spine Surgeon

J. Rafe Sales, MD

Spine Surgeon located in Portland, Newberg & Lake Oswego, OR

Herniated discs are a common cause of neck and back pain as well as pain and numbness in your arms or legs. At his practice at St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland, Oregon, J. Rafe Sales, MD, a board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeon, diagnoses and treats herniated discs with customized treatment plans to reduce your pain and help you get back to your regular activities. If your back pain is interfering with your life, call Dr. Sales or schedule a consultation online today.

Herniated Disc Q & A

What is a herniated disc?

The discs that cushion and support your vertebrae consist of a soft gel-like interior and a rubbery outer shell. A herniated disc develops when the soft insides bulge out through a weak or torn part of the exterior. Herniated discs form most often in your cervical or lumbar (neck or lower) spine.

Your spinal column is compact, with very little extra space. When a disc bulges, it can compress nerves causing pain in your back or neck as well as pain, numbness, and weakness that radiates into your arms and legs.

What causes herniated discs?

Age is one of the most common risk factors for herniated discs. As you get older, your spinal discs become drier and less flexible, which makes them more prone to injury. You might develop a herniated disc from general wear-and-tear, or you could injure a disc by lifting a heavy object or suddenly twisting your back. 

Other risk factors for herniated discs include being overweight, leading a sedentary lifestyle, or having a physically demanding career. 

How are herniated discs diagnosed?

Dr. Sales and his team provide thorough exams to determine if a herniated disc is the cause of your pain and other symptoms. They review your medical history, symptoms, and ask questions about your lifestyle. During your physical exam, they look for signs of inflammation and ask you to make some simple movements and stretches that can show them more detail about your pain.

When necessary, Dr. Sales uses imaging studies like X-rays and MRIs to examine your spine and other internal structures in more detail. They also test your reflexes, muscle strength, and sensitivity to touch.

How are herniated discs treated?

Dr. Sales and his team provide customized treatment plans to address herniated discs. They typically begin with conservative treatments like spinal injections and physical therapy. However, if noninvasive treatments don’t alleviate your pain, Dr. Sales also offers minimally invasive surgery to repair or replace herniated discs. 

In most cases, he can perform minimally invasive surgery for a herniated disc as an outpatient procedure. He needs around 30 minutes to complete the procedure. 

After your herniated disc procedure, you take medicine to manage your pain and prevent infection for a few days. Dr. Sales usually recommends physical therapy after surgery to help rebuild your strength and flexibility. Most patients are back to work, and most of their regular activities in less than seven days. 

If you’re concerned about back pain or a herniated disc, call Dr. Sales or request an appointment online today for expert diagnosis and treatment.