The pain of a herniated disc can be excruciating and make it impossible to participate in everyday activities. Localized tears in the disc is usually not painful. The herniated disc presses against, or inflames, a nearby nerve, causing pain to radiate along the length of the nerve. A lumber herniated disc is the most common cause of sciatica, leg pain along the sciatic nerve down the back of the leg.
The first indication of a herniated disc is lower back pain or leg pain that occurs for a few days and then goes away. It irritates nearby nerves and result in pain, numbness, or weakness in an arm or leg. Nerve compression triggers these debilitating symptoms. Symptoms of a lumbar herniated disc vary widely and may be experienced in the lower back, buttock, front or back of the thigh, the calf, foot and/or toes, and typically affects just one side of the body causing moderate pain in the back and buttock to widespread numbness and weakness requiring immediate medical care. For some, the pain can become chronic and debilitating.
These are some general characteristics of lumbar herniated disc pain:
• Leg pain radiating along the path of the large sciatic nerve in the back of the leg, referred to as sciatica or a radiculopathy.
• Nerve pain in the leg, with the pain being described as searing, sharp, electric, radiating, or piercing.
• Numbness, a pins-and-needles feeling, weakness, and/or tingling may be experience in the leg, foot, and/or toes.
• Difficulty lifting the foot when walking or standing on the ball of the foot, a condition known as foot drop.
• Lower back pain described as dull or throbbing, and may be accompanied by stiffness. If the herniated disc causes lower back muscle spasm.
• Pain that worsens with movement such as prolonged standing or sitting, or after walking even a short distance. A laugh, sneeze, or other sudden action may also intensify the pain.
• Pain usually develops quickly, although there may be no identifiable action or event that triggered the pain.
The pain may be alleviated somewhat by a day or two of relative rest, applying ice or heat, sitting in a supported recliner or lying flat on the back with a pillow under the knees.
Treatments can include physical therapy, low-impact exercise, stretching, and pain medication to reduce or eliminate herniated disc symptoms. Check with your pain care specialist before you begin any new exercise routine.
Our pain specialist at Florida Pain Medicine can address your individual needs and begin a targeted approach to relieve your herniated disc pain. The earlier you get a diagnosis and treatment the quicker you’ll find relief. Contact Florida Pain Medicine today to determine if treatment can help you.