It’s not uncommon to experience back pain. Nearly 31,000,000 Americans feel lower back pain at any given time. The first step to treating back pain is understanding whether it’s temporary and if it could be caused by a herniated disc. One issue such as a herniated spine can lead to a range of symptoms. These could include a dull feeling in the back or severe numbness. Some cases can resolve themselves in a matter of weeks. However, if the pain does not go away, it can become severe. You may be wondering if your disc is herniated. Read these causes to find out if you are.
What is a Herniated Disc, and what does it mean?
The spine’s bones, also known as vertebrae, are cushioned with discs. These discs serve as shock absorbers and cushions for the spine. A herniated disc is caused by a fragment of disc nucleus (a gel-like substance which cushions the bone) being pushed out of disc’s outer layer into the spinal channel through a tear, rupture. This causes the disc to push on spinal nerves, causing intense pain. A herniated or bulging disc can cause intense pain in different people. For example, men are twice as likely than women to experience a herniated spine.
Surprisingly though, the most common symptoms associated with a herniated spine are pain in the arm and leg. If the herniated disc is located in the lower back area, the pain will be most severe in the buttocks/thigh and calf. If the herniated disc in the neck is present, arm and shoulder pain can be common. A herniated disc can cause pain in the leg or arm, but they are not always severe.
What causes a herniated disc?
The use and degeneration of spinal discs can cause herniated discs. They lose water over time and become dry and more susceptible to tears. Older people may experience disc ruptures if they lose some mobility. You can either have disc wear over years or you can experience a strain. If you lift heavy objects using your back, rather than your legs, you could end up with a herniated disc. This problem can be worsened by lifting while turning.
Traumatic accidents such as those that occur while biking or driving can lead to herniated discs. It is important that older Americans be cautious when falling on ice or stairs. Being overweight is more dangerous than being healthy. Extra weight can cause strain on your discs and pull on your lower back. Some jobs can lead to back problems. Back problems can occur in those who do physically demanding jobs such as construction and demolition. Back problems can develop later in life from lifting, pulling, pushing, bending and pushing in many directions.
Your family history of back issues could make you more vulnerable. Find out who is suffering from back problems in your family so you can start taking preventative steps. It is possible that your back problems could pass down as easily as your eyes. This profile may not suit you, but here are eight common symptoms to be aware of.
People who have herniated discs may notice leg pain long before they feel back problems. Sometimes both can be present together with leg pain being the most severe. A doctor should be consulted if your sciatic nerve pain persists. Radiculopathy or sciatica may be the problem. You can have this problem diagnosed by your doctor.
You may have nerve damage if you feel sharp pains in your back or legs. This can be debilitating and you might want to seek treatment as soon as possible. When the pains feel like an electrical tingling, or a piercing sharpness to your skin, it’s time to stop what you are doing and make an appointment with a specialist. For a few weeks, stop exercising if you are a regular exerciser.
Pain that Changes Places
It is possible to feel a sharpness in one part of your back, and another in the back of your thighs the next week. You should be aware of this symptom especially if it is only one side of your body. A specialist may be able to recommend a treatment if you feel the pain jumping around in your buttock, calf or down to your feet. It could be a herniated disc.
Numbness in your feet and legs can be caused by herniated discs. Sciatica and herniated discs can cause you to feel numb or unable to think. This feeling can cause you to lose your ability to move normally. This can cause you to feel uncomfortable. Schedule an appointment to discuss your concerns.
You’re not the only one who has never heard of foot fall. It’s a sign of herniation. Foot drop can be characterized by difficulty in lifting your foot when walking. This condition can also be characterized by difficulty standing on the balls of your feet.
Lower Back Pain
Strangely enough, the back pain that is experienced in cases of herniation doesn’t always exist. The pain in the lower back may feel like a dull, dull throb. This could cause stiffness or inflexibility, which can make it difficult to avoid pain.
Sometimes, alternating cold and hot packs can be helpful in relieving back pain. However, if you are experiencing muscle spasms and you work in a chair at work, you might need to recline in a supported recliner. Place a pillow under your knees and lay down on your back to relieve the pain.
Pain when you move
A herniated disc can cause some people to feel no pain when they’re sitting down or relaxed. After moving a few feet, however, the pain may become unbearable. Talk to a specialist immediately if you feel that a sneeze, or a sudden step causes pain. Unfortunately, some people experience intense pain when they laugh.
Slouching Can Cause Pain
People spend more time hunched at their computers than ever before, and this can lead to pain when they sit down to do work. You might have a herniated or bulging disc. Pay attention to whether bending at the waist causes leg pain. If possible, don’t slouch or lean forward while sitting.
Prevention can help you avoid a herniated disc
Herniation can be avoided by people who lead active lives. Your spine will be supported better if you strengthen your core, your trunk, and your body will stabilize better. Take note of how you stand and sit, just as you were taught as a child. Keep your back as straight as possible. You can lift anything by using your legs, but not your back.
Herniated Disc Symptoms in the Cervical Spine
Because the disc material is thinner and exerts less force on the cervical spine, a cervical herniated disc is less common that a lumbar herniated. Different levels can cause pain and other symptoms of herniated discs.
C5 nerve root impingement can be caused by a herniated disc in the cervical segment 4 and 5. Although patients may feel weakness in their upper arm deltoid muscles, they do not typically feel any numbness or tingling sensations. This level of cervical herniation can cause shoulder pain.
A herniated disc at cervical segment 5 or 6 (C5-C6) can cause C6 nerve root impingement. This level is where cervical herniated discs are most likely to occur. It can also cause weakness in the biceps, the muscles at the front of the upper arm, and the wrist extensors. It can radiate pain, numbness, and tingling to the thumb side.
A herniated cervical segment 6 and 7, also called C6-C7, causes C7 nerve roots impingement. It is another type of cervical herniated dis. It can result in weakness in the triceps and extensor muscles of fingers. It can cause tingling and numbness, along with pain, down the triceps to the middle and back of the fingers.
A herniated disc in the cervical segment 7 or thoracic segments 1 (C7–T1) can cause C8 nerve root impingement. This could cause weakness in gripping and pain when the hand is used for other tasks.
Is my misdiagnosis potentially a herniated disc?
Misdiagnosed herniated discs are the leading cause of chronic neck and back pain. Herniated discs are often mistakenly misdiagnosed for piriformis, a muscular disorder of the buttocks or mild sciatica. Degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis are also common.
How long does it take for a herniated disc injury to cause pain?
Sometimes, herniated discs can cause no pain for people who don’t feel it. For those who feel pain, however, it will depend on how the disc presses on the nerve. Symptoms will usually improve or disappear after a few weeks. If you have persistent pain, surgery may be an option.
How can a herniated disc be diagnosed?
A doctor will usually conduct a physical exam to locate the source of the pain. A doctor may request further testing based on their findings. MRI is the most popular imaging option for this condition. MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) produces 3-D images using powerful magnets, computer technology, and body structures.
An MRI can show the spinal cord and nerve roots as well as the surrounding areas. It also allows the doctor to spot any abnormalities in the spine. Open MRI machines have magnets placed above and below the patient. This creates a less claustrophobic environment than traditional MRIs. The main benefit is patient comfort throughout the procedure.
MAGNETOM Espree’s groundbreaking technology allows us to give our patients the space and comfort of an open MRI, but with the imaging power of a traditional closed unit.
What are my treatment options?
Your age and general health will determine the best treatment options for your herniated disc. Talk to your healthcare provider and develop a plan. Most times, the initial treatment isn’t surgical. Patients may be advised by doctors to refrain from strenuous activities for several weeks. This will reduce inflammation and pain in the spinal nerve.
For mild to moderate pain, nonsteroidal anti inflammatory medication is often prescribed. For short-term pain relief, doctors might recommend Epidural Steroid Injections. Many physical therapies such as gentle massage, pelvic tilt, gentle massage and ice therapy are recommended. If the pain is not controlled by conservative treatment, doctors might recommend surgery.