Herniated disc symptoms

A herniated disc is a disc in the spine that has been torn or ripped, allowing the gel of the disc’s center to leak into the spinal canal.

For many patients, a herniated disc does not result in any symptoms. It is possible for the torn disc in the spine to heal over several weeks or months through an internal reabsorption process with no symptoms being felt. However, in the event that the torn disc material or the inner disc fluid presses against a nerve root in the spinal canal or against the spinal cord itself, severe pain and symptoms may develop. These herniated disc symptoms include:

  • Pain
  • Numbness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Tingling
  • Burning sensation

Herniated disc location and symptoms

The symptoms of a herniated disc may stay local to the site of the pinched nerve or spinal cord, or they may travel the length of the nerve pathway into other areas of the body. Where the pain travels is dependent on the location of the herniated disc and pinched nerve.

For example, a herniated disc in the lower back will affect a different area of the spine than a herniated disc in the neck. Below are the areas of the body affected by different locations of a herniated disc and pinched nerve:

  • Cervical (neck) herniated disc — symptoms can travel to the shoulders, arms, hands, head and sometimes the jaw
  • Thoracic (middle back) herniated disc — symptoms can appear in the rib cage, shoulders, chest and upper abdomen
  • Lumbar (lower back) herniated disc — symptoms can develop in the buttocks, legs, hips and feet

Once your doctor diagnoses where your herniated disc is located, you can work together to find a treatment option for symptom relief.

Treatment for herniated disc symptoms

While many patients can find lasting pain relief for a herniated disc through conservative treatments, such as physical therapy and pain medication, other patients may require spine surgery to relieve pressure on the pinched nerve.

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer patients a safer and more effective alternative to traditional open neck or open back surgery. Our minimally invasive spine surgery allows patients to benefit from a shorter recovery time^ and lower risk of complication compared to traditional open spine surgery.

For a herniated disc, we may recommend a minimally invasive decompression surgery or a minimally invasive stabilization surgery. A decompression surgery relieves pressure on the compressed nerve by removing a portion of the damaged herniated disc; this is our most commonly used type of procedure for a herniated disc. A stabilization surgery relieves pressure by simply replacing the herniated disc with an artificial disc to add stability to the spine.

To learn about the advantages of our minimally invasive spine surgery, or to find out if you are a candidate for one of our procedures, contact Laser Spine Institute today.

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