Herniated discs are a common condition that can occur anywhere along the back or spine, but most often affects the lower back or neck region of the spine.
Also known as a slipped disc or ruptured disc, a herniated disc develops when one or several of the pads found between the vertebrae moves from position and presses on adjacent nerves, resulting in a variety of painful symptoms.
Herniated discs are caused by overuse injuries or trauma to the spine, nonetheless, disc conditions can also develop as a result of the normal aging process or due to degeneration. It’s also understood that there is a genetic element that leads to the development of disc herniation and disc degeneration.
Symptoms of a herniated disc may generally include sharp or dull pain and discomfort, muscle spasm or cramping, fatigue, tingling sensations, numbness or referred pain.
But here is something to consider: From time to time, a disc does not cause any symptoms . That’s called an asymptomatic herniated disc. Your intervertebral disc could be bulging or herniated, but it won’t cause any symptoms, such as pain, unless it is pressing on the spinal cord, its nerve roots or individual nerves.
This brings up a fantastic point about herniated disc symptoms: Your symptoms are dependent on where you’ve got a herniated disc.
Table of Contents
Cervical Herniated Disc Symptoms
If you’ve got a herniated disc or bulging disc on your neck (cervical spine), then you will experience:
- Neck pain
- Muscle tightness or cramping on your neck
- Pain which radiates (or travels) down your arm(s) (this can be called referred pain or cervical radiculopathy)
- Tingling in your arm(s) or hand(s)
- Weakness in your arm(s) or hand(s)
Lumbar Herniated Disc Symptoms
A herniated disc in the low back (lumbar spine) may cause the following symptoms:
- Low back pain
- Muscle tightness or cramping in your back
- Pain that radiates down your leg(s) (this can be known as referred pain, lumbar radiculopathy, or sciatica)
- Tingling in your leg(s) or foot/feet
- Weakness in your leg(s) or foot/feet
- Really infrequent: Loss of bowel or bladder control (Please, even if this occurs, seek prompt medical care.)
A Note on Referred Pain Brought on by a Herniated Disc
Referred pain means that you’ve got pain in another part of your body as a result of the intervertebral disc issue. As an example, in case you’ve got a bulging disc or a herniated disc in your low back (lumbar spine), you may have known pain in your leg. This is called lumbar radiculpathy or sciatica, a shooting pain that can extend from the buttock into the leg and to the foot. Only one leg is typically affected.
When you’ve got a herniated disc in your neck (cervical spine), then you may have referred pain down your arm and into your hand. Arm and shoulder pain caused by a herniated disc is also called radiculopathy.
Lower Back Pain: Causes & Symptoms (Video)
Herniated Disc Symptoms: When Should You Find a Doctor?
The pain from a herniated disc can make it hard to enjoy your daily life; it may make it tough to walk, sit, or even sleep comfortably. If your disc symptoms linger for more than fourteen days, you should make a doctor appointment. Should you experience unexpected onset of pain (after lifting something heavy incorrectly, as an instance), call your physician.
It’s very rare, but herniated discs can sometimes affect bowel or bladder control (as mentioned above). If this occurs, seek medical attention immediately for a proper diagnosis, followed up by treatment.
The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic and spinal injuries and conditions. To discuss options on the subject matter, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900 .
By Dr. Alex Jimenez
Additional Topics: Sciatica
Lower back pain is one of the most commonly reported symptoms among the general population. Sciatica, is well-known group of symptoms, including lower back pain, numbness and tingling sensations, which often describe the source of an individual’s lumbar spine issues. Sciatica can be due to a variety of injuries and/or conditions, such as spinal misalignment, or subluxation, disc herniation and even spinal degeneration.
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The information herein on "Scientific Chiropractor: Herniated Disc Signs and Symptoms" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN* CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
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