A Herniated Disc is the Cause of Pain Suffering for Yankees Pitcher
Wednesday, 09 November 2011 03:30

Herniated discs are fairly common - and sometimes, quite serious - spinal condition that can lead to back pain. They are typically caused by subjecting the upper or lower back to strain on a regular basis, or as the result of a sudden injury.

Depending on its level of severity, a herniated disc may be simple to treat and only minimally affect a patient's quality of life. Conversely, it can cause severe pain and disability, significantly interfering with a person's career and quality of life. For a pitcher with the New York Yankees such as Phil Hughes, the latter possibility would be the case.

According to the New York Daily News, the Major League Baseball (MLB) athlete has recently been experiencing debilitating pain and spasming in his back, and was temporarily removed from his team's active roster out of necessity. After going in for an MRI, Hughes' physicians stated that the source of these symptoms might be a disc herniation with which he was first diagnosed in 2004, although it had not caused problems for him in three years.

When the spasms first struck him, Hughes and his teammates did not appear to be terribly concerned, according to an earlier Daily News article from September 18. However, once the MRI results came back, Yankees team management eliminated Hughes from his scheduled role as starting pitcher in a game against the Minnesota Twins.

It is possible that Hughes could miss the remainder of the MLB season and postseason, if his treatment and recovery take long enough. Brian Cashman, general manager for the Yankees, did not believe that would be the case, stating that Hughes would probably be back on the pitcher's mound for the team's upcoming series of games with the Tampa Bay Rays.

The back pain treatments that might be administered in Hughes's case would vary based on the severity of his pain. When his spasms and pain recently flared up, he received an epidural. Had the pain been less intense, he might have simply been prescribed anti-inflammatory medications and instructed to undergo physical therapy.

If conservative treatments fail, laser back surgery may be required to address disc herniations. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, about 4.6 million Americans will require laser back surgery at some point in their lives. Athletes needing such an operation will likely want to recover as soon as possible, and can inquire with their orthopedist about endoscopic spine surgery.

This method of minimally invasive spine surgery requires only local anesthesia, and when performed by a board-certified orthopedic spine surgeon it has a low incidence of complications. Additionally, the procedure typically involves a recovery time of about two weeks.