Disc Herniation

The Swedish Neuroscience Institute specializes in treating herniated discs. There are three types of herniated discs:

  • Cervical, which occurs in the neck
  • Thoracic, which occurs in the middle back
  • Lumbar, which occurs in the lower back

A disc herniation occurs when a disc located between the bones of the spine protrudes outside of its intended location. When the disc comes in contact with the spinal cord and nerve roots, you may feel shooting pain, tingling in the arms or legs, and weakness in muscle groups associated with the affected nerve. Sports can often lead to a herniated disc, especially activities that involve repetitive twisting, bending, diving and falling. Many sports require these movements, but some of the more common ones associated with herniated discs include football, gymnastics, hockey and soccer.

Treatment Options

Conservative Care

At Swedish, our spine specialists and surgeons don’t consider surgery to be the first treatment option because it might not be the long-term solution for you. In most cases, a herniated disc can be treated without surgery.

Your physician will help determine if non-surgical treatment is right for you. This treatment could include one or more of the following:

  • Physical therapy
  • Massage therapy
  • Aquatics
  • Epidural steroid injections
  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic treatments
  • Pain management


If you have significant and rapidly progressive weakness, or have had at least six weeks of conservative care without any improvement, surgery may be an option. Your spine specialist could recommend:

  • Microdiscectomy, a type of minimally invasive spine surgery to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and spinal nerves. Microdiscectomy is similar to a laminectomy, but involves a smaller incision to remove a portion of the lamina, a bone at the back of each vertebra.
  • Laminectomy, a type of surgery to remove the lamina, a bone at the back of each vertebra, from the affected part of the spine. This helps relieve pressure on your spinal cord or a spinal nerve.

Your surgical team will create a personalized treatment plan based on your condition, physical exam and imaging studies.

To have a spinal condition assessed by a Swedish spine specialist, schedule a consultation online or call 206-320-BACK (2225).

Patient Experiences: Steve Garrod, Spine Surgery Patient