A common injury in many adults, a herniated disc can affect any part of the spine, but usually the neck or lower back. When a disc cracks and the soft material inside starts to leak out, it can press on the spinal cord or nerves. As you know, this causes a lot of intense pain. Herniated discs can be due to advancing age, lifting injuries, and strains, with common symptoms including pain, muscle weakness, numbness and tingling.
Herniated Disc: Symptoms
The symptoms you experience will vary with the exact location of the disc and whether or not it’s pressing on a nerve. Keep in mind, herniated discs typically affect just one side of the body. You may experience:
- Arm or leg pain. When the herniated disc affects your lower back, you will most likely feel the bulk of the pain in your buttocks, calf and thigh, and possibly even foot. If the offending disc is in your neck, you’ll feel pain in your arm and shoulder, possibly shooting down your arm or leg when you move into a certain position, cough or sneeze. The pain is sharp and burning.
- Numbness and tingling. You may experience radiating numbness or tingling in the area occupied by the affected nerves.
- Weakness. You may experience muscle weakness, which may cause you to lose your balance or become unable to lift things.
It’s even possible to have a herniated disc with no symptoms. The only way it is diagnosed is through a spinal image.
You are at an increased risk for a herniated disc if you:
- Are overweight. That’s because excess body weight can cause extra stress on the lower back.
- Are age 35 to 50
- Are a male. Men have twice the risk of herniated discs as women.
- Perform physically demanding work requiring heavy lifting, or repeated pulling, pushing, and twisting motions.
- Have a family member, usually a parent, who had a herniated disc.
- Tobacco use reduces the oxygen that can be supplied to the disk, which makes it degrade more quickly.
There are some things you can do to prevent getting a herniated disc. Make sure you:
- Exercise regularly. That’s because when you strengthen the trunk muscles, this works to stabilize and support the spine.
- Maintain good posture to reduce pressure on your spine and disks. Sit straight, with your back aligned, especially when at the computer for long periods of time. Lift with your legs, not your back, when lifting heavy objects.
- Keep a healthy weight. Because excess weight places additional pressure on the spine and disks, they become more vulnerable to herniation.
- Quit smoking.
There are a few different treatment options out there to choose from, depending on the severity of your condition and the diagnosis from your doctor.
- Medications: OTC pain meds, cortisone injections, muscle relaxers, opioids
- Physical therapy
- Surgery to remove the offending disc
Contact Summit Spine and Joint Centers
If you suffer from a herniated disc, Summit Spine and Joint Centers can provide treatment to alleviate the pain. Specializing in the treatment of chronic pain conditions, often times arising from herniated discs, we welcome you to schedule your appointment at one of our 19 convenient locations including our newest featured location for Pain Management in Buford, GA. Contact us (770) 962-3642 or complete our online form.