Have Neck or Back Pain? How to Detect a Herniated Disk
If you have ever met someone who has experienced a “ruptured” or herniated disk in their neck or back, you can almost feel their pain when they talk about it. A herniated disk is well known for causing pain in the neck, lower back, arms, or legs.
What exactly is a disk? A disk is a rubbery, gel-like pad that rests between the vertebrae in the spinal column. They enable us to flex and bend our back and also act as shock absorbers during trauma. A disk may rupture for various reasons, such as improper lifting, sudden pressure, performing repetitive movements that are strenuous on the neck or back, and more.
At Orthopaedic Associates of St. Augustine, we commonly sees and treats patients suffering from a herniated disk.
Symptoms often Associated with a Herniated Disk
When someone experiences a herniated disk in their lower back, they are naturally going to feel back pain. However pain in the back is not enough to diagnose a herniated disk. Possibly the most common symptom is sciatica, which is a sharp, shooting pain that is felt down the back of one leg. It is the result of pressure on the nerves of the spine. Other symptoms may include:
• Tingling or numbness in one leg
• Weakness in one leg
• Sharp pain in the neck
A herniated disk in the neck will often cause pain in the muscles between the neck and shoulder. In some cases pain may also be felt down the arm. Other symptoms may include:
• Tingling or numbness in one arm
• Arm weakness
• Sharp pain in the neck, shoulder and arm
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms it is important to get evaluated right away. Symptoms tend to progress when a herniated disk goes untreated. Call us at 904-825-0540 to request an appointment today.
How to Treat a Herniated Disk
Luckily most herniated disks can be treated by nonsurgical methods. We often prescribe rest and over-the-counter pain relievers. Some patients need muscle relaxers and stronger anti-inflammatory medications. Applying ice for no more than 20 minutes several times a day has also proven to be beneficial. Once pain has settled it may be time to consider physical therapy to strengthen the neck and back and prevent future herniated disks.
If none of these treatment options help with pain, surgery may be necessary. If a disk fragment has become lodged in the spinal column and it is pressing on a nerve, surgery is often required.
Casey McClone, MD
Board Certifications in Family Medicine and Sports Medicine. Dr. McClone specializes in treating musculoskeletal pain for patients of all ages with ultra-sound guided injections.