Now accepting Telehealth appointments. Schedule a virtual visit.

5 Signs of a Herniated Disc

Of the many conditions that can develop along your spine, a herniated disc is one of the more common, especially in hard-working areas like your neck and lower back. While back or neck pain is one of the more obvious signs that there’s a problem, a herniated disc can lead to symptoms in seemingly unrelated areas, such as your upper and lower limbs.

To help you better identify a herniated disc, the team here at Physical Medicine Institute, led by Dr. Sam Tabibian, decided to pull together a list of the top-five signs you may be dealing with a herniated disc.

Herniated disc 101

Before we dive into the common symptoms of a herniated disc, let’s take a quick look at the problem. 

Your spine is made of vertebrae, and the top 24 moveable bones are separated by 23 discs, which are cartilaginous structures that feature a tough exterior and jelly-like interior. These discs perform a crucial role in providing your spine with cushioning and support.

If your disc herniates or bulges out of its space, it can irritate the sensitive nerve roots that branch out of your spine. This irritation (or pinching) can lead to various symptoms, with the following leading the charge.

1. Pain in your back or neck

One of the first signs of a herniated disc may be pain in your neck or lower back, which typically worsens with certain movements, as well with certain activities, For example, your neck may feel fine in one position, but if you turn your head, it’s a different story. 

The same can be true of your lower back — perhaps when you stand you don’t feel pain, but if you bend over, the nerve pinches, creating pain.

2. Pain in your legs

If you feel pain that travels down one side of your buttocks and down into one of your legs, the odds are good that you have a lumbar herniated disc (lower back). In this scenario, the herniated disc is pressing up against your sciatic nerve, which starts in your lower back and branches out and travels down the backs of each of your legs.

3. Pain in your shoulders, arms, and hands

If you have a herniated cervical disc, you may feel pain that radiates down your shoulder, into your arm, and even to your hand. 

4. Numbness and tingling

While pain is an obvious sign of a problem, you may also experience numbness and tingling in your upper and lower extremities thanks to the compromised nerve.

5. Muscle weakness

Another problem that can develop on the heels of a herniated disc is muscle weakness, which can develop in your legs and feet, as well as in your arms and hands, depending upon the location of the disc.

Treating your herniated disc

If you suspect you may have a herniated disc, we recommend that you come see us so that we can either verify the problem or ensure that your symptoms don’t stem from another condition.

The good news is that we can mostly treat herniated discs with conservative treatments, such as rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medications.

If your symptoms persist, we can try more advanced treatments such as spine injections or platelet-rich plasma therapy, which helps your discs heal more quickly.

If you have more questions about herniated discs, please don’t hesitate to contact our office in Sherman Oaks, California.

You Might Also Enjoy...

What to Do About Chronic Elbow Pain

While you may not think of your elbows as major joints, when they’re in pain, it can have a surprising impact on your life. Here’s a look at the more common causes of chronic elbow pain and how we can help.

Four Ways to Prevent Carpal Tunnel Flare-Ups

When there’s a problem in your carpal tunnel, pain and discomfort can plague you day and night. To avoid a carpal tunnel flare-up, there are a few simple steps you can take, and we review four of them here.

What to Expect During Your Electromyogram

If you’re experiencing problems with muscle control, one of the most effective diagnostic tools in our arsenal is an electromyogram. Here’s a look at what to expect during this test and how it can deliver the answers we seek.

Find Relief From Your Knee Arthritis Pain

You used to jump out of bed and greet the day, but now achy knee joints are holding you back. If you’re among the millions who have knee osteoarthritis, the good news is that there are treatments that can bring you relief.