Recognizing herniated disc symptoms

Is the chronic pain you’ve been living with due to a herniated disc, or another cause? A herniated disc is when the tough wall of a spinal disc tears, spilling the jellylike inner material into the spinal column. If any part of the disc pinches on the tightly packed nerves that travel through the spine, debilitating symptoms can result. Before seeing your primary care doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan, it may be helpful to know if the pain and discomfort you’re experiencing is the same as common herniated disc symptoms.

What a herniated disc feels like

While some local pain can result from irritation of nerves on the surface of the disc, most herniated disc symptoms are related to nerve pinching. This is what can make isolating the exact cause of neck or back pain and associated nerve pain so difficult, since the pain travels to other areas of the body. However, there is a very good chance that a herniated disc may be causing any or all of these symptoms:

  • Pain at the site of the nerve compression
  • Radiating pain to areas connected to the nerve, sometimes described as a burning pain
  • Numbness or tingling in associated regions of the body
  • Muscle weakness in the arms or legs

The location of symptoms is usually related to the location of the herniated disc. So, a herniated disc in the lower spine will tend to cause pain in the hips and legs, while a herniated disc in the upper spine will radiate pain to the shoulders and arms.

Herniated disc symptoms can be very similar to symptoms of other common degenerative spine conditions like arthritis. This is why it is important to receive an accurate diagnosis from a physician so you receive treatment for the correct condition.

Managing herniated disc symptoms

In most cases, symptoms associated with herniated disc–related nerve compression can be managed using a conservative approach. Pain medication, physical therapy, exercise, epidural injections and lifestyle changes are all very effective methods that you and your doctor can use in a care plan. However, if chronic pain and other symptoms are still present after several weeks or months of conservative treatment, surgery may then become an option.

Traditional open spine surgery does come with difficulties — like longer recovery times — but there is an alternative. The outpatient, minimally invasive spine surgery performed by the skilled surgeons at Laser Spine Institute is a minimally invasive approach to herniated disc surgery. If you have been recommended for a spinal fusion for severe disc problems, then you may be a candidate for one of our minimally invasive stabilization procedures. Our dedicated team of caring professionals will be glad to tell you more about how we can help you get your life back from chronic pain.

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