How to tell if you have a herniated disc
Is that pain in your neck or back that is taking you away from your work and family a herniated disc or just a strained muscle? While a physician’s diagnosis is the only way to be sure, there are some distinct symptoms of a herniated disc you can look for. If you are experiencing these issues, you can bring this information to your doctor to pinpoint the source.
Common herniated disc symptoms
While the first herniated disc symptom that may come to mind is local neck or back pain, it is actually very common to experience radiating pain out to the arms and down to the hips, buttocks and legs as well.
When a spinal disc ruptures, it can cause the nerves on the hard outer layer to become inflamed, causing local pain in the area of the disc. However, if the expelled inner disc material compresses on the spinal cord or a nerve root exiting the spine, it can cause radiating symptoms out to other parts of the body. These are some of the sensations that can indicate a herniated disc:
- Muscle weakness
- Muscle spasms
- Tingling sensations
If you have a herniated disc in your neck, you may notice symptoms in your shoulders or arms, while a herniated disc in your back could lead to symptoms that radiate to your buttocks, thighs and down to your feet. In fact, the most common cause of sciatica — painful symptoms associated with a pinched sciatic nerve — is a bulging or ruptured disc.
The importance of a diagnosis and treatment plan
While the above symptoms can point to a herniated disc, they can also indicate many other conditions. For this reason, your physician will conduct physical examinations and possibly request diagnostic imaging, like an MRI, to make an official diagnosis.
If you do find yourself diagnosed with a herniated disc, your doctor will usually recommend a round of nonsurgical conservative treatments. These can include rest, hot and cold compression, over-the-counter medication and lifestyle changes. More intensive treatments like physical therapy or epidural injections could also be prescribed as necessary.
When at least six months of conservative methods don’t bring looked-for relief, your doctor can then start to explore surgical options with you. If you have looked into traditional open back surgery and are uneasy about some of the risks and the long recovery that comes with it, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our patient-centric approach includes minimally invasive spine surgery in an outpatient setting that eliminates the need for overnight hospital stays and a painful recovery period. If your doctor has recommended a fusion surgery for advanced disc damage, our minimally invasive stabilization procedures are a safer and effective alternative to an open fusion.^ Reach out to our Care Team today: we want to help you get your life back from herniated disc pain.