Your spine is a remarkable and important part of your body. Made up of 33 vertebrae separated by cushions known as discs, it’s your body’s primary support structure.
The discs, which have a hard exterior and soft interior, give you flexibility and help your body absorb the shock of activities like walking and running.
A herniated disc occurs when the soft part of the disc bulges out through the hard part, pressing against sensitive nerves and causing pain.
The earlier you catch a herniated disc, the more effective the treatment will be. Here are a few warning signs of herniated discs to watch out for, courtesy of the Ani Medical Group, an orthopedics, spine, and podiatry practice in Hazlet and Old Bridge, New Jersey.
You may notice the muscles in your back becoming weaker, and your leg muscles may lose strength as well. You might realize that you cannot lift or carry heavy items anymore, and you may find yourself stumbling more often.
If the herniated disc is in your lower back, you may experience pain in your buttocks, thighs, calves, and feet — the pain can even shoot all the way to your toes. Most commonly, people complain of pain in the leg. If the sciatic nerve is affected, this kind of pain may also be associated with sciatica.
If the herniated disc is in your neck, it will normally cause arm and shoulder pain. No matter whether the pain originates in your lower or upper back or neck, it will become more severe when you tense up, such as when coughing or sneezing or when you twist your spine.
Depending on your unique situation, you may notice numbness or tingling sensations in the same places in your body that may experience pain.
Frequent urination can be another possible sign of a herniated disc, as can headaches that occur with no other explanation.
If the herniated disc is in your lower back, other potential symptoms may include numbness in the backs of the thighs and genitals, pain in the rectum, and loss of control over the bowels and bladder.
Herniated discs sometimes occur with no obvious warning signs, so it’s a good idea to be observant if you are older than 55, have a family history of disc problems, consistently lift or work with heavy objects, are overweight, or have a physically stressful job.
If you are experiencing any of these signs and symptoms, contact the Ani Medical Group at either of our offices to set up an appointment and ease your symptoms as soon as possible.