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What are the Symptoms of a Lumbar Herniated Disc?

Woman suffering from a herniated disc

If you’re experiencing back pain, you’re most definitely not alone. Nearly 31 million Americans report feeling lower back pain at some recent point in time. Understanding whether it’s temporary or something like a herniated disc is an important step in treating back pain.

The symptoms of one issue, like a herniated disc, can vary from a dull pain in the back to severe numbness and difficulty moving. In some cases, the pain can go away on its own after a matter of weeks. But if the pain persists, it can become debilitating.

If you’re wondering whether you’re dealing with a herniated disc, read these causes to see whether or not you fit the profile.

What Causes A Herniated Disc?

Herniated discs are caused by the usage and degeneration of your spinal discs. Over time, they lose water content, becoming drier and prone to tears. For older people who’ve lost some flexibility, a sudden change in movement or a twist can lead to the rupturing of your discs.

This herniation can be caused by years of wear on your discs or it can be the result of a specific strain. People who use their back rather than legs to lift objects can end up with a herniated disc. Turning while lifting can exacerbate this issue.

Traumatic car or biking accidents can cause herniated discs more immediately. This is why it’s so important for older Americans to beware of falling on ice or staircases.

People who are overweight are more at risk than those who maintain a healthy weight. The extra weight will cause undue stress on your discs, pulling on your lower back.

Certain jobs can contribute to back issues as well. People who work physically demanding jobs like construction and demolition can be prone to back issues. Lifting, pulling, bending, and pushing in all sorts of directions puts people at risk for back issues later in life.

You could even be at risk because of a family history of back issues. Get to know who in your family has back issues so that you can take preventative measures now. You could inherit your back issues as easily as you inherit eye color.

Whether or not your fit this profile, here are 8 common symptoms to look out for.

1. Leg Pain

Many people with herniated discs notice leg pain long before they notice back issues. Often the two can be found together, with leg pain standing out as much more severed.

If you find that your pain is running along your sciatic nerve, you should seek the opinion of a doctor. You could be suffering from radiculopathy or sciatica. A doctor can properly diagnose this issue for you.

2. Nerve Issues

If you’ve noticed sharp pains in your legs or back, you might be suffering from nerve damage. This can be a debilitating symptom and you may want to seek help as soon as possible.

Once the pains start feeling like an electrical tingling or a piercing sharpness, stop what you’re doing and book an appointment with a specialist. If you’re a regular exerciser, modify or refrain from working out for a few weeks until it subsides.

3. Pain That Changes Locations

You might end up having a sharpness that is in your lower back one week then the back of your thigh in the following week. Be aware of this symptom, especially if it seems localized on one side of your body.

If the pain is jumping around your buttock, your calf, or down to your toes, see what a specialist can recommend. You might have a herniated disc.

4. Neurological Issues

Herniated discs can cause a certain amount of numbness in your legs and feet. If you feel thinking or pins and needles, you might have an issue with sciatica or herniated discs.

This feeling can get in the way of your normal movement. If this happens, schedule an appointment to see what your issue could be.

5. Foot Drop

If you’ve never heard of foot drop, you’re not alone. It’s a very particular symptom related to herniation.

If you feel there is a sudden difficulty for you to lift your foot while walking, you could be suffering from foot drop. It’s also characterized by problems with standing on the balls of your feet.

6. Lower Back Pain

Strangely enough, back pain isn’t present in every case of herniation. Your lower back pain might feel like a dull throb. It may cause a stiffness or an inflexibility to avoid pain.

Sometimes alternating hot and cold packs can help treat back pain. But if you’re feeling muscle spasms, you might need to sit in a supported recliner if you spend your days in a desk chair. To alleviate pain, lay flat on your back and place a pillow under your knees.

7. Pain When You Move

For some people suffering from a herniated disc, they may not feel any pain at all when they’re relaxed or seated in a chair. But pain might become explosive after moving just a short distance.

If you’re noticing that sneeze or a sudden leap causes pain, talk to a specialist. Sadly, there are some people who experience the most intense pain when they sit up to laugh.

8. Pain From Slouching

As more and more people spend their days hunched over a computer, even sitting down to work can cause pain. If you experience this symptom, you might be suffering a herniated disc.

Take notice if bending at your waist makes your leg pain intensify. Avoid slouching or hunching forward while seated whenever possible.

Avoid a Herniated Disc With An Ounce Of Prevention

People with active lifestyles can avoid issues that come with herniation. If you strengthen your core and your trunk, you can better support your spine and stabilize your body better.

Just like you were told as a kid, take notice of your own posture when sitting or standing. Keep your back as straight as possible. And if you have to lift anything, use your legs and never your back.

If you’re still worried about your spine, contact us for more resources on how to help your back stay in shape.

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