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Herniated Discs


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The University of Miami Health System’s Spine Program delivers a multidisciplinary approach that is led by a team of the region’s best neurosurgeons to provide the latest in herniated disc care, including minimally invasive spine surgery.

Your spine is made up of many separate bones (vertebrae) and spongy tissue (discs) between each vertebra that allows you to move and bend. Herniated discs occur when there is change in the structure of the normal disc. Technically, a disk herniates or ruptures when part of the inner substance pushes through the outer edge of the disk, causing pain, numbness or weakness in the arm or leg. 

Most of the time, this is the result of aging and can be the result of degenerative disc(s). Any disc in the spine can become herniated, but it is most common in the lower back and neck. 

Health care professionals refer to this condition by a variety of names. Our spine specialists are the best-in-class and will base their treatment suggestions upon your specific symptoms, a physical examination, and diagnostic imaging. They will then explain everything so that you can make an informed decision for your medical care powered by the most advanced technology, groundbreaking research, and medical education. That is why you should choose us to help alleviate your back and neck pain.


The experienced physicians at UHealth’s Spine Program can determine if your back pain is caused by a herniated disk by reviewing your medical history, a thorough physical examination, and diagnostic tests as needed.

During this test, you will receive an injection of saline into your disc(s) under CT guidance. This is done to provoke any pain and/or abnormal response. This can show abnormal nerve pathways generating pain inside the injured/degenerated disc.

Electromyography and Nerve Conduction Velocity (EMG/NCV)
Electroneurophysiological testing is done with current and electrodes to determine nerve function/dysfunction. This can demonstrate nerve damage.

This diagnostic test uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce film images of internal tissues, bones and organs.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
This diagnostic test uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce film images of internal tissues, bones and organs.

This procedure uses dye injected into the spinal canal to make the structure clearly visible on x-rays.

Computed Tomography Scan (CT Scan)
This diagnostic imaging procedure uses a combination of x-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional images (often called slices), both horizontally and vertically, of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat and organs. CT scans are more detailed than general x-rays.

Please Note: If you choose a UHealth facility for your tests, our office will schedule the tests for you. If you prefer another testing facility, however, it is your responsibility to contact that facility and schedule the tests.


Physical Therapy
Often herniated discs do not need to be operated on. In fact, physicians often start with conservative methods such as back rehabilitation which focuses on relieving pain and improving mobility.

For less severe conditions, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, naproxen sodium) can help relieve pain and relax muscles.

Heat and Cold Therapy
Alternating a heating pad and cold packs on the injured area can help decrease inflammation and loosen muscles.

Our expert team of spine surgeons is specialized in managing these problems with the full array of surgical techniques, including minimally invasive approaches when applicable. Cervical disc replacement surgery is an option for patients with cervical disc herniations who have not responded to non-surgical treatment. In this minimally invasive procedure, an intervertebral disc is removed, and an artificial disc is inserted between the two cervical vertebrae. The artificial device is used to preserve motion at the disc space.

Why Choose UHealth?

Team-based approach. Our program consists of a team of highly specialized and caring professionals that will be there for you before, during, and after your surgery, including neurosurgeons, pain rehabilitation specialists, and physical therapists.

Precision medicine. At UHealth, minimally invasive spine surgery for degenerative disc disease is precision medicine at its finest. Everyone experiences back pain and nerve dysfunction differently. Our spine surgeons focus on the specific cause and location of your back condition. We are here to relieve your symptoms with as little impact to your body as possible.

Access to the largest variety of procedures.  We offer more than 30 unique minimally invasive spine procedures and treat both adult and pediatric patients. We also perform spinal fusions, decompressions, artificial disc replacement, and other back surgeries. 

Multidisciplinary team headed by experts. Led by a team of board-certified minimally invasive spine neurosurgeons who perform more than 1,000 surgeries a year, our program also includes internationally renowned researchers and clinicians including:

  • Neurosurgeons
  • Orthopedic spine surgeons
  • Neurologists
  • Physiatrists
  • Neuroradiologists
  • Anesthesiologists
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Therapists

The latest technology. We use the latest technological advancements to achieve the best results. Our comprehensive array of highly-specialized, innovative technology and leading-edge instruments for minimally invasive surgery (MIS) procedures include:

  • O-arm®
  • Mazor Renaissance™ Spine Robot
  • Spinal endoscopy
  • Tubular dilator retractor systems
  • High resolution microscopes
  • Neuro-navigation

Anesthesiology specific to spine surgery. In the area of spine surgery, our anesthesiologists work with surgeons to develop techniques that allow them to monitor all peripheral nerves during spine surgery. Because of these techniques, our patients wake up better with fewer complications. Anesthesia matters, and at University of Miami Hospital, we are at the cutting edge of new techniques. Our anesthesiologists are renowned in their field and teach and train the anesthesiologists in the community.

Multidisciplinary team of experts. Our spine care providers offer support and insight backed provided by the basic and clinical science research programs at the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, the largest spinal cord injury research center in the United States. 

This team includes:

  • Neurosurgical specialist
  • Orthopedic spine surgeons
  • Neurologists
  • Physiatrists
  • Neuroradiologists
  • Anesthesiologists
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Therapists

Minimally invasive spine surgery. MIS is less painful and offers you a quicker healing time because it causes less damage to surrounding tissues. It also means you have a less noticeable scar than you would get from a traditional surgery. In fact, it is sometimes as small as two centimeters.

If you want to know the cause of your back pain and how to treat it, our expert team at the UHealth Spine Program can help. Request an appointment online or call 305-243-BACK (2225) today.

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