4ad3770a-2f6c-442c-a287-56687cbc058fNot every herniated disc causes symptoms. In fact, many people discover they have a herniated disc after having an x-ray for an unrelated reason.

If you have a herniated disc, it is important to treat it properly. See your doctor for advice—and seek immediate attention if you experience any of the following emergency signs:

-Pain is getting worse
-Disabling pain
-Leg or arm pain, weakness, numbness, tingling
-Loss of feeling or weakness in your bladder or anus
-Loss of bowel or bladder control

Symptoms of a herniated disc may include dull or sharp pain, muscle spasm or cramping, weakness, tingling, or referred pain.

Referred pain means that you have pain in another part of your part as a result of the disc problem. For example, if you have a bulging disc or a herniated disc in your low back (lumbar spine), you may have referred pain in your leg. This is known as sciatica—a shooting pain that can extend from the buttock into the leg and sometimes into the foot. Usually just one leg is affected.

If you have a herniated disc in your neck (cervical spine), you may have referred pain down your arm and into your hand. Leg and arm pain caused by a herniated disc is also called radiculopathy.

It’s very rare, but herniated discs can cause you to lose bowel or bladder control. If this happens, seek medical attention at once.

Pain from a herniated disc is often the result of daily wear and tear on the spine. However, it may also be caused by an injury. Pain is sometimes the result of pinched nerves that are crowded by the leaking nucleus pulposus. A herniated disc can occur slowly over time, taking weeks or months to reach the point when you feel you must seek medical attention. Or, pain may occur suddenly from incorrect lifting or twisting that aggravates a weak disc.

Progression of Herniated Disc

1.Disc Degeneration: During the first stage, the nucleus pulposus weakens due to chemical changes in the disc associated with age. At this state no bulging (herniation) occurs.
2.Prolapse: During prolapse, the form or position of the disc changes. A slight bulge or protrusion begins to form, which might begin to crowd the spinal cord.
3.Extrusion: During extrusion, the gel-like nucleus pulposus breaks through the tire-like wall of the annulus fibrosus but still remains within the disc.
4.Sequestration: During the last stage, the nucleus pulposus breaks through the anulus fibrosus and even moves outside the disc in the spinal canal.

Kamiah A. Walker Medical Writer SpineUniverse Wheaton, IL