Recognizing the Signs of a Herniated Disc

To say that back and neck pain are common would be a mild understatement. In fact, 80% of the population in the United States experiences problems with back pain at some point in their lives and it’s one of the leading causes of missed work days. While there are any number of problems that can lead to back or neck pain, herniated discs certainly rank near the top.

To help you identify a herniated disc so that you can get the treatment you need, Dr. Michael Ware Hennessy and our team of highly trained spine health experts here at Texas Spine Consultants pulled together a quick checklist of symptoms. 

A pain in the back or neck

Let’s start with the most obvious symptom — pain. When a disc herniates, it escapes its space between your vertebrae and can press up against one of the sensitive nerve roots that branch out from your spine. 

Herniated discs most often develop in the areas of your spine that enjoy the most movement, namely your lower back (lumbar spine) and your neck (cervical spine).

The pain that develops in these areas may be constant or come and go with certain movements, such as turning your head or bending over. 

Pain that radiates

A classic sign of a herniated disc in your lower back is pain that radiates down one side of your buttocks and the back of your leg. This occurs when the disc presses up against your sciatic nerve, which branches out from your lower back and travels down the backs of each of your legs.

This same problem can occur with a cervical herniated disc, except the pain radiates down into your shoulder, arms, and hands.

Numbness and tingling

While pain certainly gets your attention, when a herniated disc pinches a nerve, it can also lead to numbness and tingling in your arms, hands, legs, and feet, depending upon the location of the herniated disc. 

These symptoms, together with the radiating pain, fall under a condition we call radiculopathy.

Muscle weakness

Depending upon the location and severity of the nerve compression, you may also experience weakness in your limbs. In severe cases of lumbar disc herniation, you can develop foot drop, a condition in which it’s difficult to raise your foot.

Treating a herniated disc

If any of these symptoms sound familiar, it’s likely you may be dealing with a herniated disc. It’s important that you come see us so that we can properly identify the problem (and rule out others) and get you on the road to pain-free movement.

To get started, contact one of our two locations in Plano or Addison, Texas, to set up an appointment.

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