A herniated disc is a condition where the soft, jelly-like inner portion of the disc that cushions the vertebrae pushes or bulges out through a crack in the tougher, harder exterior known as the annulus. Sometimes, nearby nerves are affected by a herniated disc, which then causes severe pain in the part of the body that those nerves tend to.
Our spinal cord is made up of bones which are stacked up on top of each other, known as the vertebrae. In between these bones, the spinal discs can be found, acting as shock absorbers for the vertebrae. As mentioned before, each of these discs has a soft, rubbery center known as the nucleus, which is then surrounded by a tougher outer layer known as the annulus. When there is a crack or tear in the annulus, a portion of the nucleus bulges out through the tear. If the herniated disc compresses a nearby nerve, then you are likely to experience symptoms.
A herniated disc is a very common condition across the globe, mostly affecting older people aged between 35 and 55 years old. This is because a herniated disc is usually a result of age-related degeneration in most cases.
What are the Symptoms of a Herniated Disc?
Most patients with a herniated disc do not experience any symptoms and go on with their lives without even realizing that they have a herniated disc. This is because nerves are not compressed, so they do not experience pain. However, in the case that a nearby nerve is compressed by the herniated disc, they will experience sharp, intense pain, and will require professional treatment.
Here are the most common symptoms of a herniated disc that you should watch out for:
- Usually, a herniated disc happens in the lower back, which means that pain is most often felt in your legs, buttocks, calf, and sometimes, even the feet. However, if the herniated disc occurs in your upper back like your neck, then you will feel pain in your shoulders and arms.
- Another common symptom is a feeling of numbness or tingling sensation in parts of the body served by the affected nerves.
- Those who suffer from a herniated disc may experience weakening of the muscles served by the compressed nerves. This may affect your ability to hold and lift objects.