Herniated Disks: When to See a Doctor


The average person pays little attention to their spine unless they have pain. You rely heavily on this magnificent column to keep you standing straight and in one piece. The spines of adults have 33 individual bones called vertebrae, divided by cartilaginous discs. These discs have a robust outside but a jelly doughnut-like inside. The intervertebral discs between your vertebrae are essential to your spinal health because they allow for motion and cushion your spine from the impact of daily activities like walking, jogging, and lifting. A herniated disc is one in which the gel-like center protrudes through the tough outer annulus, putting unwanted pressure on nearby nerves. If you are dealing with Hamilton herniated discs, often known as “slipped discs,” they may have severe consequences if not addressed.

Like other medical issues, a herniated disc is best treated in its early stages. The following are signs of a herniated disc that indicate you should see a doctor:

Pain when sitting

Sitting is a major contributor to back pain, inflicting extreme strain on the vertebral discs in your lower back. Sitting may worsen back pain if you have a herniated or bulging disc because sitting increases pressure on the disc, making the bulge larger.

Chronic, debilitating pain

You should go to the doctor if you are in so much pain that it is interfering with your regular life. Pain that spreads throughout the body and makes movement difficult or impossible is a symptom of a serious medical emergency. If your pain interferes with your daily activities or keeps you up at night, you should see a doctor. If your symptoms persist or worsen after therapy, you should also consult a doctor.

Loss of feeling or muscle control

You may have a compressed spinal nerve if you have trouble maintaining your balance, lose sensation in your legs and feet, experience muscular weakness, or notice a decline in your ability to do fine motor tasks. It is possible that the spinal cord is being crushed due to the herniated disc, making the situation very urgent from a medical standpoint.

Sharp pain that shoots down your leg (sciatica)

The spinal nerve roots are posteriorly and laterally, making these areas prime targets for herniated and bulging discs in the lower back. A herniated disc may impact these nerve roots in 2 ways:

  • Direct compression- When a disc protrudes into the spinal canal, or its contents leak out, pinching a nerve root as it emerges from the spinal column.
  • Irritation from chemicals- Acidic chemical irritants from the disc material may seep out of a herniated disc, causing inflammation and irritation of the region surrounding the nerve root.

Because the afflicted nerve root is no longer performing as it should, you may experience searing pain, numbness, weakness, and tingling in the front or rear of your thigh, leg, and foot. These discomforts are often diagnosed as sciatica. In most cases, just one leg will experience the disc pain associated with sciatica.

Compromised bladder and bowel function

Loss of control over your bowels or bladder may indicate a herniated disc in the lower back. It may indicate a serious condition that often manifests in the spine and requires rapid medical intervention.

If you have any of these symptoms, it may be time to see a doctor about the possibility of a herniated disc. To reduce inflammation and alleviate pain, your doctor may prescribe a mix of nonsurgical therapies, including pain medication, a guided physiotherapy program, and referrals to an interventional physical therapist for image-guided lumbar injections.


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