A herniated disk, also known as a “slipped,” “torn,” or “ruptured” disk, often results when we attempt to lift something. Please note that although the pain and discomfort can seem unbearable, a herniated disk is actually one of the most common conditions affecting your neck, back, arms, and legs. Aside from age, a herniated disk may occur due to: smoking, excessive body weight, sudden pressure, repetitive strenuous activities, and improper lifting.
Research suggests that herniated disk pain in the lower back affects 80% of the population. This condition, lumbar disc herniation, is 15 times more likely to occur than a cervical or thoracic disk herniation. When you visit West Michigan Spine Center, our team of medical professionals possess the skill and experience necessary to diagnose and treat herniated disc, neck, and back pain.
Causes and Symptoms of Herniated Disk
Our spines contain flat, round, jelly-like intervertebral disks between each vertebrae. The nucleus pulposus provides flexibility and strength while the flexible outer ring, annulus fibrosis, enables spinal movement and support. A herniated disc develops when the disk’s center bulges out through the outer rings. When such bulging discs touch the nearby sensitive spinal nerves, herniated disc pain radiates throughout the spinal cord. These disks contain water that enables flexibility, and as we age this water content decreases. The disks then shrink and the spaces between become narrower, weakening and damaging the disks.
When a herniated disk targets the lower back, it’s called lumbago. A herniated disk can also result in numbness, tingling, burning, and weakness in the one or both arms or legs and the buttocks, and may even cause a loss of bladder and/or bowel control. A herniated disk may result in sciatica, a sharp, shooting pain running from the buttocks down the back of a leg. A herniated disc in neck areas can place pressure on the trapezius muscles located between the neck and shoulders. This can cause pain to shoot down the arms, as well as headaches in the back of the head. Although severe pain and discomfort often accompany a herniated disk, it can be challenging for a physician to identify the cause. Typically, a herniated disk is suspected after an individual falls or has been involved in an accident involving the back.