Herniated Disc - Symptoms

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What are symptoms of a herniated disc?

The symptoms of a herniated disc depend on the exact level of the spine where the disc herniation occurs and whether or not nerve tissue is being irritated. A disc herniation may not cause any symptoms. However, disc herniation can cause local pain at the level of the spine affected.

If the disc herniation is large enough, the disc tissue can press on the adjacent spinal nerves that exit the spine at the level of the disc herniation. This can cause shooting pain in the distribution of that nerve and usually occurs on one side of the body, referred to as sciatica. For example, a disc herniation at the level between the fourth and fifth lumbar vertebrae of the low back can cause a shooting pain down the buttock into the back of the thigh and down the leg. Sometimes this is associated with numbness and tingling in the leg. The pain often is worsened upon standing and decreases with lying down.

If the disc herniation is extremely large, it can press on spinal nerves on both sides of the body. This can result in severe pain down one or both lower extremities. There can be marked weakness of the lower extremities and even incontinence of bowel and bladder. This is medically referred to as cauda equina syndrome.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: quattro, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: May 09

I too had a herniated disc in my neck and my doctor dismissed it as pulled muscles. I suffered for 8 months in agony with the pain never less than a score of 7 but often 9 or 10. In the end a friend bullied my doctor into referring me and I had my disc removed and my spine fused within two weeks. The relief was instant and after 3 months it was perfect. I have a slight loss in sideways neck mobility but I can't thank the surgeon enough. Unless you have experienced it you cannot appreciate the relentless pain. I sympathize and you should insist on a MRI scan ASAP, good luck.

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Published: November 19

I am a 44 year old woman and I don't know what to do about my pain anymore. I had a spinal fusion in 2010 which included bone grafts and a metal plate and screws at c-4,5,6,7. Now I see ads on TV regarding bone grafts and serious side effects. I also have herniated disks in between T-4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11 and 12. I also have issues in the lumbar spine. I have degenerative disc disease and I go to a pain clinic. I currently take Norco as well as Fentanyl patches. I still have pain but I have to work and am the only one supporting three other people, my husband and two kids. I need some advice. I can only imagine my pain status as I get older.

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