Symptoms of a ruptured disc

Understand the signs of ruptured disc symptoms using this helpful guide from Laser Spine Institute.

Symptoms of a ruptured disc occur when one or more of the spine’s discs becomes damaged and pushes into the spinal canal. If ruptured disc material puts pressure on nerve roots or the spinal cord, then symptoms like radiating pain, numbness, weakness and tingling will likely result.

When spinal discs are healthy, they are filled with a gel-like substance called nucleus pulposus. The discs act as shock absorbers and allow us to move our neck and back freely. As we age, these discs wear out, and the inner core can extrude through the disc’s tough outer layer, or annulus fibrosus. Age-related deterioration of the spine can lead to a condition called degenerative disc disease, and this is one of the most common causes of a ruptured disc.

Ruptured disc symptoms vary widely, depending on the position of the ruptured disc and the size of its herniation. Typically, a ruptured disc is preceded by neck or lower back pain. For a cervical ruptured disc (located in the neck area), symptoms can travel to the shoulders, arms and hands. In the case of a lumbar ruptured disc (in the lower back), symptoms can radiate to the buttocks, hips, legs and feet.

Symptoms of a ruptured disc can include:

  • Muscle spasms
  • Muscle weakness
  • Shoulder, arm, or chest pain
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Sciatica
  • Pain in your lower back, hips, buttocks, legs, and feet
  • Severe deep muscle pain
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control, which indicates a medical emergency requiring immediate medical attention

If you’re experiencing any symptoms of a ruptured disc, consult with your physician. He or she can determine the cause of your discomfort or pain and prescribe a treatment plan, which could include over-the-counter medication and physical therapy.

In some cases, patients diagnosed with a ruptured disc require more than standard treatment to return to daily activities like playing golf, shopping or going to work. For those patients, there are other options available — such as minimally invasive procedures performed on an outpatient basis at Laser Spine Institute. With a much faster recuperation time^ and fewer risks than other treatments, including open spine surgery, Laser Spine Institute’s treatments can help you find meaningful relief from neck and back pain. For a review of your MRI or CT scan, and to learn more information about our facilities and procedures, contact us today.