If you’re experiencing pain that radiates down the back of your leg, or have numbness, tingling, or weakness in your toes, foot, or leg, then you may well have a bulging or herniated disc (also sometimes referred to as a collapsed disc, ruptured disc, disc protrusion, or a slipped disc.)
Think of spinal discs as shock absorbers sandwiched between the vertebrae. They provide support for the upper body and enable it to enjoy a free range of movement. However, if a disc ruptures, some of the cushioning fluid inside can leak out. When the disc loses fluid, it loses some of its pliability, flattening and hardening, which hobbles its ability to support the spine. It can also cause the disc to bulge outward where it can subsequently come into contact with a nerve, resulting in pain, numbness, weakness and, in extreme cases, paralysis.
You might well have a compromised disc in your spinal column and yet have only minor symptoms that something is wrong, or even have no outward symptoms at all. In fact, 70% of the people who have no symptoms actually do have a bulging or herniated disc, a ticking time bomb that will eventually painfully manifest itself. That said, here are some of the most common symptoms of a possible herniated disc:
Sudden onset of symptoms
Low back pain
Sharp pain that radiates down the leg
Numbness and/or tingling in the leg, instep of the foot, and toes
Difficulty lifting the foot when walking
Pain aggravated by movement
Pain aggravated by poor posture while sitting or standing
Diagnosis can be complicated as the bulge in the afflicted disc doesn’t always correlate to pain or other symptoms on the other side of the body.
So how did this happen?
Sometimes a disc can become compromised due to an event such as a fall or other physical trauma, as part of the aging process, or through repetitive motion injuries. So often I hear patients presenting with a bulging disc who say something along the lines of, “I just leaned forward to shave, and suddenly it happened!’ To these patients, it may very well seem like the manifestation of their pain came out of nowhere but, as I counsel them, “It wasn’t that one time when you bent forward to shave, it was the 10,000th time you bent forward to shave!”Our bodies have memories, they are an archive of every moment of our lives, and those countless moments can accumulate force over time, with the potential to one day loom into our lives and stop us in our tracks. At our Dr. Gus Health and Wellness Centers, we have therapeutic treatments that can help address the root causes of those symptoms, and we can consult with you on healthier, more sustainable approaches to use to help you avoid aggravating your discs in future, and get you feeling good again in a relatively short period of time.