In your spine, there are small, spongy discs that cushion the bones forming the spine. These discs work as shock absorbers for the spine making it flexible. Sometimes, all or part of a spinal disc is forced through a weakened part of the disc placing pressure on nearby nerves. This condition is known as herniated disc. It may be caused by:
Age. The advancing age may wear out the disc making them less flexible.
Spinal injury. A spinal injury may cause cracks in the hard outer layer of the disc forcing out the gel inside the disc. This may cause the disc to bulge or break open into pieces.
A herniated disc mostly affects people in their middle age or old age and those who perform strenuous physical activity. Among other causes, congenital conditions affecting the size of the lumbar spinal canal may also cause the problem.
The condition may be characterized by varying low back or neck pain. The pain may be mild tingling, dull ache or burning, pulsating. The pain may be severe enough making the patient unable to move. Here may also be numbness. Depending on the area affected, the pain may mostly affect one side of the body. In a lumbar herniated disc, there may be a sharp pain in part of the leg, hip or buttocks. There may also be numbness that may make the leg to feel weak. On the other hand, a cervical herniated disc may cause pain while moving neck, deep pain near or over the shoulder blade. In some cases, the pain may radiate to upper arm, forearm or fingers. More often than not, the pain gets worse after standing or sitting, at night, while sneezing, coughing, laughing or, while bending backwards or walking for a few yards.
During an initial consultation, the surgeon may perform a physical examination and take history of your pain. Besides that, a neurological examination may also be performed to evaluate muscle reflexes, sensation and muscle strength which may reveal a decrease in the spinal curvature. The surgeon may also perform diagnostic tests that may include