Herniated disc pain may be experienced throughout the body, not merely in the upper or lower back. Depending on the location and severity of the disc herniation, symptoms can range from chronic neck and back discomfort to severe pain that travels to the legs or arms, usually on one side of the body. In some people, herniated discs may cause no symptoms at all and go undiagnosed for years. Others find that herniated discs are extremely painful and have an adverse effect on the patient’s quality of life.
A healthy spine includes a disc of soft joint cartilage between each pair of vertebrae that provides cushioning along the spine. The discs act as shock absorbers for the spine and allow for normal mobility, flexibility and weight support. Years of wear and tear can cause intervertebral discs to become more susceptible to injury. If a disc ruptures and spills its contents into the spinal canal, it can often apply pressure to, or even “pinch,” an adjacent nerve root in the spinal column. An impinged nerve root often produces traveling pain, numbness and tingling along the length of the nerve, whether it goes to an arm and hand or a leg and foot.
A herniated disc affecting a nearby nerve root can be the cause of a number of symptoms, including neck and back pain, numbness and tingling in the extremities, muscle weakness and more. For example, a lumbar herniated disc (in the lower back) can cause sciatica. Sciatica is a set of symptoms that might include herniated disc pain and the sensation of sharp pain or “pins and needles” in the buttocks, legs and feet. A pinched nerve caused by a herniated disc in the cervical spine (neck) might be the cause of a burning sensation in the arms or soreness in the shoulders.
If you believe you are experiencing herniated disc pain, the first step is to visit your physician. Depending on the severity of the pain, a number of conservative, non-surgical herniated disc treatments may be available. However, if you are not able to find relief from your neck or back pain, contact the knowledgeable staff at Laser Spine Institute to learn about your options. As the leader in minimally invasive spinal surgery, Laser Spine Institute offers a variety of outpatient procedures to immediately address your herniated disc pain. Please contact us to learn more and to receive a free review of your MRI or CT scan.