A herniated disk is another common spelling of the diagnostic term herniated disc. Many patients are confused by the plethora of terms, names and spellings associated with this very common spinal condition and even many doctors spell the name incorrectly. Even more confusing is the wide range of diagnostic opinions, prognoses and treatment options offered to affected individuals with an intervertebral disc concern.
The scope of this article will clarify the proper spelling of various disc diagnoses, as well as provide some insight as to how the different names for disc pathologies are used to classify specific conditions.
Regardless of what it is called, a herniated disc is perhaps the most common spinal abnormality. In fact, it is so common that one might argue if it is even abnormal at all to have a prolapsed disc in one’s spine.
Herniations are part of the normal life cycle for many lumbar and cervical spinal discs. While some herniations can cause nerve root compression due to foraminal stenosis or even directly affect the spinal cord, most are completely innocent and asymptomatic natural occurrences in the vertebral column. Most intervertebral prolapses are nothing to fear and many exist without ever being discovered, since they do not cause pain.
The most widely accepted name for this spinal condition is certainly herniated disc. However, there are many instances where the word disc might be spelled disk. Although this is technically not correct, I see it often, even when spelled on official diagnostic reports and medical transcripts.
To further complicate matters, there are a wide range of other names used to describe the exact same anatomical spinal irregularity, including:
Some of these names are used to describe specific types of herniations by some care providers, while other doctors might use many of the terms interchangeably.
It is no surprise that patients and doctors alike differ greatly in their opinions about disc conditions. Most can not even agree on the correct name for the diagnosis.
Being confused by a herniated disc diagnosis is very common. Many patients do not understand the differences between the medical terms used to describe their intervertebral disc conditions and do not receive adequate information from their doctors.
I am always shocked how many patients write to me with their MRI results asking me simply to interpret the report for them in plain English. This demonstrates a fundamental breakdown in the crucial communication between doctor and patient. No wonder so many patients are dissatisfied with the medical care they receive.
Doctors should be responsible for providing every patient with a diagnosis and prognosis they can understand. Care providers have definitely dropped the ball when it comes to explaining the exact nature of many disc conditions. Worse yet, many doctors actually take advantage of a patient’s lack of understanding to impart a considerable nocebo effect by over dramatizing the potential effects and duration of the symptoms.
This is why it pays to be an informed and knowledgeable patient. You should be responsible for understanding your own body and if your doctor does not do a good job explaining your condition to you, then ask questions. If the doctor can not answer your questions in a manner which makes sense to you, then it is time to find a new doctor.