Spotting the Warning Signs of a Herniated Disc

If you’re like most people, you probably don’t give your spine much thought until something hurts. This remarkable column functions as your primary support structure, holding your body together and keeping you upright. 

Adults have 33 vertebrae making up their spine, separated by pillowy cushions known as discs. The exterior of these discs is tough, but the center is soft like a jelly doughnut. These intervertebral discs play a crucial role in your spine health by giving it flexibility and helping to absorb shock from actions like running, walking, and lifting.

When you sustain a herniated disc, the soft inner portion of the structure bulges out of the hard exterior, pressing against sensitive nerves. If left untreated, this injury, also called a “slipped disc,” can lead to serious complications. 

Like most conditions, it’s best to treat a herniated disc early on. Here are the top warning signs of a herniated disc, according to our spine health experts at International Spine, Pain & Performance Center

Recognizing the signs of a herniated disc

It may not be easy to know if you have a herniated disc because the symptoms can be mild. And even if your symptoms are severe, they can indicate a wide range of nerve or spinal conditions. 

These are common warning signs of a herniated disc to watch for: 

If you have any of these symptoms, especially if they’re persistent, you should see a doctor immediately.

Understanding what causes a herniated disc

Recognizing the symptoms of a herniated disc is only the first step. Understanding their cause can help you and your doctor determine whether you have this condition. In most cases, herniated discs are due to general age-related wear-and-tear. That’s because the discs in your spine start to shrink with age as they lose their protective water content. 

Other causes of herniated discs include lifting heavy objects, having a physically demanding job or lifestyle, or sudden turning or twisting of the spine. Overweight men and women also have a higher chance of developing herniated discs because their spines must support the extra weight. 

Treating a herniated disc 

If you have a herniated disc — which one of our spine health experts can diagnose after a comprehensive exam and consultation — you should begin treatment right away. For many men and women, conservative therapies relieve herniated disc pain in just a few days to a couple of weeks. 

Our conservative therapies might include:

If your pain doesn’t improve with conservative measures, your spine doctor might recommend more intensive treatments, such as physical therapy, spinal cortisone injections, or surgery.

To learn more about herniated discs, or if you think you may have a herniated disc, contact one of our convenient locations in Washington, DC, or Arlington, Virginia, by calling today. You can even book an appointment online. 

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