What causes a herniated disc?
A herniated disc, sometimes referred to as a bulging disc, can occur at any place on your spine. Some people may lack symptoms and are not aware they have a herniated disc.
- Natural wear and tear. As we age, the intervertebral discs dry out and lose their flexibility as you age resulting in weaker discs that cannot sustain pressure
- Injury. If the back is injured, tiny cracks and tears can occur in the annulus, the outer edge of the disc in the vertebra, which causes the gel-like matter (nucleus) to be forced out of the disc. This can cause the disc to bulge, tear open or break into pieces.
What are the symptoms of a herniated disc?
- Arm or leg pain. If the herniated disc is located in the lower back, you will normally feel the most pain in your buttocks, thigh and leg below the knee. If the herniated disc is located in the neck, you will most likely feel pain in your shoulder and arm.
- Numbness or tingling. People often experience numbness or tingling in the body part associated with the affected nerves. Sciatica is the most common symptom of a herniated disc in the back which is accompanied by pain and numbness in the buttock and down the leg.
- Weakness. Muscles served by the affected nerves tend to weaken. This may cause you to stumble or impair your ability to hold or lift items.
- Backache. If a herniated disc is not pressing on a nerve, you may experience back pain.