Three lesser-known slipped disc symptoms

When most people think of a slipped disc, the first symptom that comes to mind is back pain. However, damaged disc symptoms aren’t always limited to that singular complication. In fact, the signs of a damaged disc can be much more varied and tough to trace back to their source. Some of the lesser-known signs can be related to any number of conditions, so narrowing their cause down to a slipped disc may take several examinations and imaging tests.

Why other symptoms happen

Pain in the neck or back at the site of slipped disc is easy enough to understand, but why do some symptoms happen beyond that immediate area? Due to how tightly packed the spine is with bones, discs, ligaments, the spinal cord and the nerves that branch from it, one out-of-place element can impact others nearby. When a disc puts pressure on the spinal cord or a nerve root, for example, it interferes with the signals sent between the brain and the parts of the body that the nerve branches out to. That means symptoms can show up anywhere along the nerve below where the disc touches it.

Symptom No. 1: Pain in other areas of the body

Pain that doesn’t have an immediately apparent cause could be a result of a slipped disc somewhere in the spine. For example, a damaged disc in the neck (cervical spine) might lead to pain in a shoulder or arm, while a damaged disc in the lower back (lumbar spine) can cause pain in a hip, buttock, thigh or leg. Of course, such far-flung symptoms can make diagnosis difficult.

Symptom No. 2: Weakness in the extremities

As with traveling pain, weakness can occur in areas of the body that are far removed from the slipped disc itself. A slipped disc in the neck can cause weakness in the hands, while a slipped disc in the lower spine can produce weakness in the feet. These problems may first be noticed by a lack of coordination — such as an increased clumsiness of the hands or an awkward gait — and they may progress into the inability to properly grasp objects or noticeable difficulty walking.

Symptom No. 3: Abnormal sensations

A pinched nerve can interfere with the brain’s ability to perceive touch and pain, so abnormal sensations can be a symptom of a slipped disc. Such feelings often occur in the extremities, and they can include:

  • Burning sensations
  • Tingling feelings
  • Pins-and-needles sensations

These symptoms can range from barely noticeable to debilitating, but they can all signal an underlying nerve problem.

If you have been diagnosed with a slipped disc and have tried conservative treatment options without noticing an improvement, or if your symptoms have worsened, surgery may be an option. Laser Spine Institute’s minimally invasive spine surgeries are a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery.^ If you’d like to learn about our outpatient procedures, contact us today.