Back pain is, unfortunately, more common than many people realize. There are many potential causes of back pain, including pain related to a herniated disc. Herniated discs are sometimes referred to as slipped or ruptured discs.
The Type of Back Pain
If you have a herniated disc, your back pain symptoms will be unique. It is most common for a disc in the lower back to be herniated, but it can also happen in the neck.
Experienced back pain specialists in our Totowa, Clifton, Paterson, and Jersey City offices typically notice the symptoms affecting just one side of the patient’s body. The symptoms also vary based on the location of the herniated disc and depend on whether the disc is putting pressure on a nerve.
In addition to back pain, herniated discs commonly lead to leg pain. For herniated discs in the lower back, expect pain in the calf, thigh, and buttocks. There may also be foot pain.
Herniated discs in the neck are more likely to cause pain focused in the arm and shoulder.
Overall, pain from herniated discs is typically burning or sharp. It can also shoot into the legs or arms when you make sudden movements. The pain can also get worse after you sit or stand. You may also notice it gets worse at night.
Other Symptoms of Herniated Discs
The pain that sends you to an NJ or NY back pain doctor near you is not the only symptom of a herniated disc. You may also notice muscle weakness if nerves are affected, making it hard to hold or lift things and even lead to stumbling. There may also be numbness or tingling, which can be radiating and will focus on the area by the affected nerves.
Other Causes of Back Pain
Herniated discs are not the only reason to visit a back pain doctor in New Jersey or New York. Other causes of back pain can be tumors, scoliosis, degenerative disc disease, osteoporosis, aging, muscle injuries, muscle strains, vertebral fractures, spinal stenosis, or compressed nerves.
Causes of Herniated Discs in the Back
The most common cause of herniated discs in the back is disc degeneration – or, more simply put, wear and tear related to aging. Our discs lose flexibility as we get older, which increases the risk of ruptures or tears.
It is also possible for a specific action, such as lifting a heavy object incorrectly, to cause a herniated disc.
Although rare, physical trauma can also cause herniated discs.
Some people are at a higher risk of requiring herniated disc treatment than others. You have a higher risk if you are overweight, have a physically demanding job, or smoke. You may also have a genetic predisposition to herniated discs.
How We Treat Pain and Herniated Discs
Before your back pain specialist in NJ or NY suggests a treatment, they will confirm the diagnosis. This typically involves imaging scans like discograms, MRI scans, CT scans, and x-rays.
Reduced Activity Levels
Some doctors treating a slipped disc in the back will try non-invasive treatments first. Expect suggestions like reducing your activity level for a few days or weeks; this can reduce the inflammation in the spinal nerve. However, it would help if you did not go on bedrest.
Prescription of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications is prevalent, particularly for mild to moderate back pain from the herniated disc. If the pain is severe or persists, your herniated disc specialist may give you an epidural. This steroid injection will direct the medication right to the herniated disc for maximum relief.
Physical therapy is another common treatment for pain associated with a herniated disc. The therapist will always start with a thorough evaluation which will, in combination with your back pain specialist’s diagnosis, determine the treatment. Physical therapy can include electrical muscle stimulation, stretching, ice and heat, massage, pelvic traction, and ultrasound.
Most herniated disc specialists will only suggest surgery if the other treatments didn’t work. Whether surgery is an option also depends on the patient. You are more likely to be considered for surgery if you are in good health and have severe symptoms that affect your quality of life, such as extreme pain that interferes with daily activity. It can also include losing normal bladder and bowel functions.