You may notice intense back pain that comes and goes, or you may feel shooting pain from your back that goes down your legs. If you’ve ignored these symptoms, you shouldn’t. These are often signs of a herniated disc.
At the pain-management practice of David Wu, MD, we know just how serious this problem can be. So, we’ve compiled this helpful guide on what a herniated disc is, why the condition should be treated, and the treatment options that are available.
Your spine is made up of 33 circular bones called vertebrae, and they basically stack on top of each other. And between each of these bones are circular cushions called discs. These discs keep your vertebrae from rubbing against each other, and they also absorb shock from activities, such as running, walking, twisting, and lifting.
These discs are tough and thick on the outside, and they have a gelatinous core on the inside. Due to age, activity, or injury, a disc’s thick exterior can get damaged and allow the inner gel to squeeze out and press on the nerves that run down the back of your spinal column. As the gel presses on your nerves, this can result in pain.
You could get a herniated disc anywhere along your spine, from your neck to your lower back, which is where they most commonly occur. Some common symptoms of a herniated disc include feeling these sensations around your back, including:
It’s common to feel these symptoms on one side of your body, and it may also be common to experience shooting pain radiating down your arms and legs.
Herniated discs are serious health problems. Because you’re dealing with a spinal injury, you could be at risk for permanent paralysis or long-term chronic pain if you leave your herniated disc untreated.
For one thing, leaving a herniated disc untreated can result in nerve damage associated with your bladder or bowels, and this could mean permanent urinary or fecal incontinence.
You could also be at risk for saddle bag anesthesia. This is a condition in which you lose sensation in your inner thighs, around your rectum, and down the back of your legs.
Treatment for your herniated disc will depend on how damaged your disc is. To determine this, we will perform a thorough exam and run diagnostic tests, such as a CT scan. If you do have a herniated disc, we may give you steroid injections to reduce pain and inflammation. One the inflammation has lessened, we may give you physical therapy to build strength in the region and improve your range of motion.
To find out if you have a herniated disc and to learn more about your treatment options, book an appointment online or over the phone with the office of David Wu, MD, today.