Is It Back Pain or a Herniated Disc?

With back pain affecting as many as 85% of adult Americans at some point in their lives, it’s likely that you’re acquainted with your own aches and discomfort. While there are many causes behind back pain, herniated discs are a common one. 

But how do you know if a herniated disc is causing your back pain? In this blog, the medical experts at Ani Medical Group in Hazlet and Old Bridge, New Jersey, have put together some helpful tips on how you can recognize if you have a herniated disc. 

How disc herniation creates pain

Spinal discs are constructed in a way that mimics a jelly doughnut. The tough outer casing contains a softer, more viscous center. These discs sit between each bone of your spine to permit movement and absorb the shocks and vibrations associated with motion.

The outer shell can become brittle with age or broken due to injury, and the inner gel can escape. This escaping gel can put pressure on nerves in the surrounding area. When nerves are irritated, pain usually results.

Disc herniation, though, can occur without nerve irritation. And the rupture can occur and heal without symptoms. Even when there is pain from nerve pressure, most disc ruptures heal naturally, and surgery is necessary only in rare cases. 

Symptoms of herniated discs

One symptom of herniated discs is radiated pain. With this symptom, you may feel sensations in your buttocks and legs along with lower back pain. Pain from strained muscles or soft tissue injuries, on the other hand, are usually contained to the injured area. The most common type of radiated pain — medically called referred pain — involves the sciatic nerves, which are major nerves that pass from your spine to your feet.

Both sciatic nerves could be affected by a disc herniation, but typically only one is affected. This means you will usually only feel symptoms on one side of your body. You may have pain along the length of the nerve or just in certain locations along its path. Furthermore, you may experience numbness and tingling along the nerve, from your buttocks to your legs, along with pain in your back.

Muscle weakness, usually in your legs, is another symptom you may encounter. Nerves not only provide sensations, they also control muscle contractions and movement. When a herniated disk irritates motor nerves, you may feel weak or uncoordinated when you walk.

While you may have symptoms consistent with herniated discs, there are other possible causes. The spine specialists at Ani Medical Group know what to look for and how to treat back pain. If you have back pain for any reason, book an appointment online or over the phone with Ani Medical Group today.

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