If you are suffering with lower back or leg pain, you may be wondering if you have a bulged, protruded or herniated disc. The big question is how do you know?Keep reading for some tips for identifying the signs and symptoms of a herniated disc.
Identifying A Disc Problem In The Lower Back
Where does it hurt?
It stands to reason that a disc lesion, which is a spinal problem, would always cause lower back pain. In reality, that’s not always true. While most of the time, a patient with a disc problem is going to have some lower back pain, the real symptoms of a disc lesion will be in the hip and the leg(s) themselves. Think of the disc as a jelly donut. In a disc herniation, the jelly (located in the middle of the disc) oozes to the outside of the disc and pinches the nerve. This “pinching” of the nerve causes radiating pain down the leg(s) to the buttock, hamstring, calf or foot. Will a disc herniation causes you to become paralyzed? Probably not. Discs, in general, have a very poor blood supply. Because they have a poor blood supply, they are slow to heal. Generally, the longer the nerve is “pinched” the longer it takes to heal.
What are your symptoms?
The symptoms of a lower back strain and a lumbar disc problem are different. While a lower back strain can be VERY painful, the pain will usually be localized in your lower back or the sacroiliac joints. With a disc problem, the lower back can hurt but there usually will be a deep, aching pain in the buttocks, hips, hamstring, calf or foot. A matter of fact, some patients with a disc problem only complain of leg discomfort. Most of the time, a person with a disc problem will have trouble sitting, driving, bending, walking or getting comfortable in bed. Getting up from a seated or laying position can be unbearable! Sound familiar?
Can you tell if the disc is herniated by my pain alone?
Good question. While an in-depth consultation gives the doctors a good idea what’s going on, an examination is always necessary to determine how the nerves are functioning. Can you walk on your toes and heels? How are the reflexes in the knees and achilles tendon? Is there weakness in the big toes against resistance? While these neurologic tests are a great indicator, the gold standard for the diagnosis of a disc problem will always be an MRI. Current research tells us to treat the disc with conservative care (manipulation, interferential therapy, decompression, laser and rehabilitation) for 4-6 weeks and see how the patient progresses. Most of the time, an MRI will not be needed at this point because the patient will be feeling some improvement.
Have you been diagnosed with a disc bulge, protrusion or herniation? If you suffer from neck, lower back or leg pain , contact Morreale Chiropractic to see if we can help. At Morreale Chiropractic, our goals should be your goals. Feel Better. Function Better. Live Better. We are open early (7 am) M,W,F and late (until 7 pm) M,T,W,Th,F.