Q: What is a herniated disc? A: The spine is composed of a series of connected bones called vertebra. The vertebra are connected by two small joints and a sponge-like disc. A herniated disc, also called a "slipped disk," is a disc that bulges out from its position between two vertebra. The herniated disc can press on nearby nerves and cause pain, numbness, and tingling. Q: How are spinal injections done? A: Injection of steroid medication into the spine can help reduce pain and help you move better. It also can help your doctor identify the source of back pain. The procedure is brief and is performed right in the doctor's office while you are awake. You may be given a medication to help you relax, and a local anesthetic that feels like a pin prick is usually given near the injection site to numb the skin. In some cases, X-ray imaging is used for precise placement of the injection. You usually can resume normal activities the day after the injection. Q: What is osteoporosis? A: Osteoporosis is a disease in which the bones become porous and weak, which increases a person's likelihood of a fracture. It's more common in women who are over age 50. The best way to help prevent osteoporosis is to be sure your diet contains plenty of calcium and vitamin D and do weight-bearing exercises such as walking. Q: What do I need before I can go to physical therapy? A: Patients need a doctor's referral that includes the specific area to be treated, as well as insurance approval or a self-pay agreement. We accept most major insurances. Wear comfortable clothing such as sweatpants or shorts. Q: What are physician assistants? A: Litchfield Hills Orthopedic Associates utilized highly trained physician assistants, who work under the direct supervision of the orthopedic surgeons to see patients for office appointments, perform pre-op physicals, assist at surgery, handle post-op visits, and see some emergency patients such as those with fractures. If you or your physician prefers that your care be from one of the doctors, please let the receptionist know at the time you schedule your appointment. Q: What are NSAIDs? A: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are often prescribed as treatment for a musculoskeletal problem. They are used to reduce inflammation, which can cause stiffness and swelling. Some NSAIDs, such as Advil and Motrin, are available over the counter, without a doctor's prescription. For the vast majority of people who take them, NSAIDs are safe and effective medications. Mild side effects include upset stomach or heartburn. Severe side effects, including vomiting and hives, are extremely rare.