Disc herniation symptoms — causes and treatments

Disc herniation symptoms vary from patient to patient, but they can be very disruptive to your quality of life, taking you away from your favorite people and activities. For some people, a herniated disc might mean local, chronic neck or back pain. For others, a herniated disc can cause sciatica or result in tingling and numbness in the hands and fingers.

The nature of symptoms depends on factors like the severity of herniation and the location of the disc in the spine, which is why a precise diagnosis is required to receive the most effective treatment. As you work with your doctor, the following information can make you a better educated patient and help you get the care you deserve.

How disc herniation symptoms develop

It is possible to have a herniated disc and not experience symptoms. Disc herniation can become painful both from irritation of nerves on the disc’s outer layer and from compression of the spinal cord or a nerve root. Symptoms of nerve compression include shooting pain, tingling, numbness and muscle weakness in the extremities. The exact location of traveling symptoms depends on the level of the spine where the disc herniation occurs:

  • Cervical (upper) spine — affects the neck, shoulders, arms and hands
  • Thoracic (middle) spine — affects the chest and abdominal regions
  • Lumbar (lower) spine — affects the hips, buttocks, legs and feet

Herniated discs most commonly develop in the cervical and lumbar regions, due to the weight load and flexibility required of these areas.

Treating the symptoms of a herniated disc

Treatment for disc herniation usually begins conservatively with a comprehensive course of treatments designed to relieve pain and improve mobility. It is possible for this condition to improve and heal over time, so it is important to put yourself in a position to recover. Your doctor can help you develop a plan that is best for your individual needs and state of health.

Conservative treatment can include:

  • Pain medication
  • Alternating between hot and cold compression
  • Physical therapy and massage
  • Limited periods of rest
  • Moderate exercise to improve cardiovascular health and strengthen core muscles

In the event that your disc herniation symptoms persist after nonsurgical treatment and you are looking for more lasting relief, contact Laser Spine Institute before consenting to a highly invasive traditional open spine surgery. Our board-certified surgeons+ use a less than 1-inch incision to perform minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery that has been able to help more than 60,000 patients find relief since 2005.

To learn more and find out if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures, reach out to our dedicated team for a no-cost review of your MRI or CT scan.*