Herniated discs can come in many shapes and sizes, causing different symptoms depending on where the herniation is occurring. For those in their 30s and 40s, herniated discs are not uncommon. With normal wear-and-tear, the parts of our spine that get the most work naturally degenerate overtime, causing a herniated disc.
What is a herniated disc?
In between each vertebrae of the spine, there are soft spinal discs that act as a cushion. These cushions protect your spine daily during your everyday activities. Unfortunately, as you get older, these discs become flatter and less cushiony. When the discs become too weak, the outer part can tear allowing the inner part to push through and press on the nerves in your spine.
There are separate areas of the spine that could be affected by a herniated disc:
- Cervical – the top of the spine
- Thoracic – the middle of the spine
- Lumbar – the lowest part of the spine
Typically, herniated discs will occur at lumbar level – between the bottom of the ribs and the hips. The base of your spine often carries the most weight and, in turn, the spinal discs become flatter faster.
What does a herniated disc feel like?
Since lumbar herniated discs are the most popular, we will focus on the symptoms of a herniated disc in your lower spine. As with any condition, symptoms can vary from person-to-person. If you have a herniated disc in your lower back, you may be feeling:
- Pain in the lower back
- Pain that develops quickly then disappears
- Pain shooting down the buttocks and legs
There are also a number of risk factors that could make developing a herniated disc more likely:
- Herniated discs often occur in people between the ages of 30 and 50
- Men are more likely to experience pain from herniated discs than women
- Physically demanding jobs show a higher rate of disc herniation
- Being overweight can make you more susceptible to a herniated disc
How can you tell if you have one?
There are a few at-home tests you can do to tell if you have a herniated disc. Try the tests in this video:
While it’s nice to have the peace-of-mind knowing why your pain is occurring, it’s still extremely important to consult a professional. The best way to tell if you have a herniated disc is to visit a doctor for an official diagnosis. The New Jersey physiatry practice at Coastal Spine offers nonsurgical and surgical treatment options to relieve and remedy herniated discs.
What are the next steps for treatment?
More often than not, herniated discs are able to be healed using nonsurgical methods like physical therapy and medication to reduce inflammation. The physiatrists at Coastal Spine make it their priority to exhaust all nonsurgical options first before turning to surgery. If surgery is required, treatment can often be provided with a minimally invasive surgical procedure.
Easy to do at home, these herniated disc exercises and stretches may help your pain. To be sure, consult your doctor before doing any exercises.
If you are experiencing what you believe to be a herniated disc, it’s in your best interest to consult a doctor as soon as possible! A physiatrist at New Jersey’s Coastal Spine will be able to properly diagnose you and offer a treatment plan to reduce your pain.