Are you older than 55 and have a family history of herniated discs? If so, it’s important to be aware of the warning signs of this condition, as well as to understand that sometimes it occurs without any warning signs at all.
At Douglas J. Abeles, MD, and Associates, Douglas Abeles, MD, Jalal-Arman Daryaie, DC, and Creed Larrucea, DPT, as well as the rest of our staff, want to make sure that you are as protected from experiencing a herniated disc as possible. Still, if it does occur, time is a factor in the healing process and being able to seek treatment sooner rather than later hinges on being aware of the condition in the first place.
Knowing a herniated disc when it happens
The discs in your spine are oblong structures that sit between the vertebrae, protecting them and cushioning them from one another. They are tough on the outside and have a softer, inner core, kind of like a jelly donut. Over the course of your life, the tougher, outer shell of the disc might experience small tears, which could cause the softer inside of the disc to bulge out. This is what is known as a herniated disc.
This can occur in any part of your spine, and depending on where it occurs, different symptoms might follow. Herniated discs in the lower back are the most common type, but some people experience a herniated disc up higher, such as in the neck.
Herniated disc in the neck
If you experience a herniated disc in the neck, your symptoms will most likely include
- Arm and shoulder pain
- Pain when you cough or sneeze
- Pain when you twist your spine
- Frequent urination
- Numbness or tingling in the arms or shoulders
If the condition is severe enough, it could cause loss of balance and coordination issues, awkward movements, stumbling, and possibly a loss of fine motor skills. You might also experience a shock-like feeling that runs from your neck all the way to your legs. Of course, these are the more severe symptoms that will occur if the disc is not treated sooner.
Herniated disc in the lower back
Lower back herniated discs are the most common occurrence of this issue. They can cause symptoms such as
- Weakness and tingling in the lower back
- Weakness and tingling in the legs
- An inability to lift or carry heavy objects
- Lower back pain
- Leg pain
- Pain in the thighs, calves, feet, and bottom
- Numbness in the genitals and the backs of the thighs
- Rectum pain
- Loss of bladder and bowel control
All of these symptoms might not occur at the same time. Some are more likely to occur than others as well. Weakness, tingling, and pain are the most common symptoms with a low-back herniated disc.
No symptoms at all…
According to the Mayo Clinic, in some cases, you might not experience any warning signs with the occurrence of a herniated disc. You might feel perfectly fine and not notice any pain. This could be a problem, as it could cause the issue to worsen and the first symptoms you experience to be severe. As such, you’ll need to be aware of the increased risk of experiencing a herniated disc if you
- Have a genetic history of disc issues
- Are over 55
- Are overweight
- Have a job that causes you a lot of physical stress
It’s important to know what the signs of a herniated disc are if you have any of these risk factors, but it is also important to talk to your doctor about this possibility, even if you haven’t experienced any of the warning signs.
Want to learn more about herniated discs?
Call 510-538-0430 to set up an appointment at our Castro Valley, California office. You may also want to book an appointment online at the most convenient time for you.