Herniated discs affect individuals all throughout the United States each year. They can be painful and make it hard to stand, and even be completely debilitating for some. Although herniated discs are a fairly common back problem, they are widely misunderstood by many.
What causes a herniated disc?
If a disc in your spine (usually in your lower back) slips out of its normal place, you have a herniated disc. This can put pressure on surrounding nerves. The two most significant forms of pain that patients experience with a herniated disc are nerve pain caused by the disc pushing on surrounding areas and axial pain, which is characterized by pain in the herniated disc itself.
A herniated disc can be caused by several different things:
- An injury to the back (this is the most common cause)
- Aging – discs can become dry and less resilient over time
- Pressure on the spine – like with weight gain or pregnancy
While there are many reasons that a herniated disc can happen, it is more important to look at the way they are treated and the various symptoms that they can cause when you are dealing with a herniated disc.
What are the symptoms?
The first sign of a herniated disc is usually pain in the lower back area. Many individuals experience a pinching or tingling type of pain that is an indicator the disc has slipped into one of the nearby nerves. Herniated discs can also cause pain that radiates down one leg, pain that goes from the back into the buttocks, weakness in the legs, and muscle spasms in the lower back, buttocks, or legs.
How is it treated?
While the pain may be almost unbearable at times, it is important for patients to know that a herniated disc is generally able to be treated fairly easy without the use of invasive procedures. For a beginning treatment, patients are often advised to rest for at least a few weeks in order to allow the nerves and muscles in the area to relax. After this period, if the disc is not healed, a physician might recommend physical therapy or pain relief injections to help with the pain. In rare cases, after 6-8 weeks of non-invasive procedures, surgery may be recommended.