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Spotting the Signs: Common Symptoms of a Herniated Disc

A herniated disc, also known as a slipped or ruptured disc, is a prevalent spinal condition that can cause a range of symptoms. It occurs when the soft, jelly-like center of a spinal disc protrudes through a crack in the tough outer layer, putting pressure on nearby nerves.

Understanding the common symptoms of a herniated disc is crucial for early detection and timely treatment.

Symptoms of a Herniated Disc

Sharp and Radiating Pain: One of the most common symptoms of a herniated disc is sharp and radiating pain. The pain typically occurs in the area of the herniated disc and can extend along the path of the affected nerve. For example, if the herniation is in the lower back (lumbar region), you may experience intense pain that radiates down the buttocks and into the legs.

This condition is known as sciatica. Similarly, if the herniated disc is in the neck (cervical region), the pain may travel down the arm. The pain can be aggravated by certain movements, such as bending, lifting, or sitting for extended periods.

Numbness and Tingling Sensations: A herniated disc can compress nerves, leading to numbness and tingling sensations in the affected area. For instance, if the herniation is in the lumbar region, you may experience numbness or tingling in the buttocks, legs, or feet.

In the cervical region, the same sensations can occur in the shoulders, arms, or hands. These symptoms are often described as “pins and needles” and may accompany or follow the sharp pain associated with a herniated disc.

Muscle Weakness: The pressure from a herniated disc can also lead to muscle weakness in the affected area. You may notice difficulty in lifting objects, gripping, or performing activities that require strength and coordination.

For example, if the herniation is in the lumbar region, you might experience weakness in the legs, affecting your ability to walk or maintain balance. Muscle weakness is a concerning symptom that requires prompt medical attention to prevent further complications.

Increased Pain with Movement: People with a herniated disc often experience increased pain with certain movements. Activities like bending forward, lifting heavy objects, coughing, or sneezing can exacerbate the symptoms.

On the other hand, some individuals may find relief when they are lying down or in a reclined position, as it reduces pressure on the affected nerve. Understanding which movements aggravate or alleviate the pain can help in managing the condition and avoiding activities that may worsen the symptoms.

Changes in Reflexes: A herniated disc can also affect your reflexes. For example, if the herniation is in the lumbar region, your knee or ankle reflexes may be altered.

Similarly, in cases of cervical herniation, your biceps, triceps, or wrist reflexes may exhibit changes. These reflex abnormalities can be indicative of nerve compression and should be assessed by a healthcare professional.

Bowel and Bladder Issues: In severe cases where the herniated disc significantly compresses the nerves in the lower back, individuals may experience bowel and bladder problems.

This can manifest as difficulty in controlling urination or bowel movements, and incontinence may occur. Bowel and bladder issues are considered red flags and require immediate medical attention.

Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment can often lead to successful management of herniated discs and relief from discomfort. Ignoring the symptoms or delaying medical evaluation may lead to further complications and hinder your ability to perform daily activities.

If you or a loved one suffer from a herniated disc in Shoreview, MN call us today at (651) 490-1507 to schedule a free consultation.

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