A herniated disc is a condition that can occur in any part of the spine but happens most often in the lower back. Herniated discs are displaced, “non-contained” fragments in the spinal canal. This displacement causes the disc to press on spinal nerves and causes pain in the area. It indicates the presence of a tear or rupture and is usually in the early stage of degeneration. Most cases of herniated discs start as bulging discs which deteriorated over time.
Causes and Symptoms
Spinal injury, recurring back strain, poor posture, normal wear and tear, and aging all cause herniated discs.
There is sometimes little to no nerve irritation in herniated disc cases, and therefore symptoms do not appear until much later. However, if there are symptoms present, it can be unbearably painful. These are the following signs to watch out for:
- Pain radiating to extremities
- Unbearable back or neck pain
- Tingling and numbness of the area
- Muscle weakness
- Inability to move or limited motion range
For a herniated cervical or neck disc, neck pain is a common symptom. You may also feel frequent headaches and experience shooting pain in your arms and shoulders. For a herniated lumbar disc, sciatica is the most common symptom.
What Happens to an Untreated Herniated Disc?
Avoiding or prolonging treatment for a herniated disc is a matter of personal choice and symptom tolerance. However, if left untreated, a herniated disc can lead to more severe complications which can turn into a chronic condition. If the pain starts to interfere with your daily activities, it is highly advised to seek a diagnosis and treatment recommendations from a spine specialist as soon as possible.
Severe slipped disc cases can lead to permanent nerve damage or cut off certain nerve impulses. You may experience sharp or intense pains, irregular bowel movements, incontinence, or even partial paralysis. One possible chronic condition that can result from an untreated herniated disc is saddle anesthesia, a condition in which compressed nerves cause you to lose sensation in the inner thighs, back of the legs, and around the rectum.
Untreated herniated discs can cause unpleasant and painful symptoms. However, this can all be prevented by undergoing treatment.
The treatment for a herniated disc will depend on the level of discomfort you are feeling and how far the disc has slipped out of its proper position. A lot of cases are treated through non-surgical pain management methods.
Slipped discs can be relieved through exercise programs that focus on stretching the back and the surrounding muscles. After a short period of rest, your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist for exercises that will help strengthen the neck, back, and abdominal muscles. You can also be prescribed with medication that will relieve the pain.
If symptoms do not subside within six weeks or if your condition is not showing any improvement, your doctor may recommend surgery. This surgery may be a microdiscectomy, where the surgeon will only remove the damaged portion of the disc. In severe cases, the disc may be replaced with an artificial one or removed entirely, followed by the surgeon fusing your vertebrae together.
Herniated Disc Treatment in Boca Raton, Florida
If you see signs of a herniated disc or have been experiencing back pains, see the experts at Kamerlink Pain Institute. Dr. Kamerlink can quickly give you an accurate diagnosis and recommend effective treatments.
To make an appointment, call (561) 404-7667 today and find relief.