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What Can Happen if a Herniated Disc Goes Untreated?


It's not a good idea to ignore signs suggesting something is off in your body. This piece of advice applies to a common source of leg pain—a herniated disc. Also commonly known as a “slipped disc” or “ruptured disc,” a herniated disc can't “fix” itself, and there are some things that can happen if you fail to address this problem. We go over this list below.

Lingering Back and/or Radiating Pain

One of the most noticeable things that can happen if you don't fix a herniated disc is leg pain that keeps coming back and may even grow worse. You may also notice symptoms that extend along the pathway of the affected nerve, which could result in:

  • Tingling sensations
  • Numbness
  • General muscle weakness
  • Shooting pain

These are symptoms that, if the problem disc is in your lower back, could be felt in your hips, buttocks, or legs. This is more likely to be the case if the affected nerve is the sciatic nerve, which starts in your lower back and moves downward.

Permanent Nerve Damage

A herniated disc is usually only noticed when a nearby nerve is irritated. If pressure on the nerve continues, the nerve that's affected may be permanently damaged. Should this happen, you may develop a related condition referred to as saddle anesthesia, which results in reduced sensation around the pelvic area. In some instances, permanent or extensive nerve damage could contribute to serious issues with bowel or bladder control.

Potential Damage to Other Areas of Your Spine

When a herniated disc is out of place or not as durable as it should be, the pressure from your movements may be transferred to nearby parts of your spine. This displacement of pressure could damage other discs or spinal structures. You may then have entirely new issues that worsen your discomfort.
Potential Damage to Other Areas of Your Spine

If you're shifting how you walk because of a
herniated disc, lower back pain from sciatica could be causing a change in your gait that could overstress your hip joints. If this continues long enough, the hip joint may be affected by inflammation or damage from accelerated wear that hastens the development of arthritis.

Diminished Quality of Life

Even if your herniated disc pain comes and goes, ignoring this problem could still impact your daily quality of life. Depending on the nature of your symptoms, ongoing or recurring issues with an untreated herniated disc could contribute to:

• Changes in your daily habits
• Not being able to participate in activities you enjoy
• Mobility difficulties
• An inability to work if you have a physically demanding job

How to Tell if You Have a Herniated Disc

A telltale sign of a herniated disc is pain within the affected area often combined with discomfort in nearby areas. For instance, if the problem disc is in your lower back area, you may also notice numbness or tingling sensations in your hips or legs. However, the only way to know for sure if you have a herniated disc is to get confirmation from a medical professional. If conservative treatments aren't effective for your
herniated disc, surgery may be recommended.

One of the main concerns with surgery is the significant risk of reherniation—where the same disc herniates again through a hole left after surgery. In fact, 70 percent of all reherniations come from large holes left behind in the disc. Fortunately, Barricaid is a bone-anchored barrier designed to close these holes, and it’s been proven 95 percent effective, meaning 95 percent of patients didn’t need to be reoperated for a recurrence of their herniated disc in the 2-year study timeframe.

If you have any questions about the Barricaid treatment or how to get access to Barricaid, ask your doctor or contact us at 844-288-7474.

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