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What are the signs of a herniated disc?

On Behalf of | May 31, 2024 | Spinal Cord Injuries

If you slip and fall on your back or suffer a serious injury in an automobile accident, you could experience a herniated disc. This happens when you have a problem with one of the rubbery cushions, or discs, that are situated between the vertebrae that compose your spine.

Each spinal disc has a soft center, or nucleus, encased in a tougher exterior. A herniated disc occurs when the nucleus pushes out through a tear in this exterior. While some people with a herniated disc experience no symptoms, others go through significant pain and discomfort.

Examples of symptoms

Some individuals experience pain in the area of the spine where the disc herniation has occurred. This pain can be persistent and you may mistake it for other back issues. Additionally, you could feel pain in other locations of your body. A herniated disc in the lower back often produces pain in the buttocks, thigh, calf, or a foot.

If your herniated disc is in your neck, pain typically radiates into your shoulders and arms. This pain can worsen if you make certain movements like coughing, sneezing or positioning. This pain may become burning and sharp.

Other symptoms do not involve pain. You may just experience weakness in your arms or legs, which often happens because nerves affected by the herniated disc are impairing your muscles. You could also have numbness or tingling in parts of your body served by the afflicted nerves. This symptom often occurs along with pain and can hamper arm and leg function.

When to seek emergency medical attention

Certain signs indicate the need for immediate medical care. A herniated disc can generate increasing pain, numbness or weakness that impairs your ability to carry out daily activities. Also, difficulty in controlling your bowels or urination can indicate cauda equina syndrome, a rare but serious condition where the herniation compresses the entire spinal canal.

Some individuals experience saddle anesthesia. This involves a progressive loss of sensation in areas that would touch a saddle, such as the inner thighs, backs of the legs, and the area around the rectum. This may require immediate treatment to prevent permanent nerve damage and loss of body function.

Understanding the signs of a herniated disc can aid in early diagnosis and treatment, as well as help you learn the scope of your needed care. In the event your back or spinal injury was the result of negligence, you can determine your care costs to include in whatever compensation you receive.


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