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How to Tell if You Have a Herniated Disc


You may not immediately know you have a herniated disc. In fact, you could have a herniated disc and not even know it at all for the duration of the herniation, which is often indefinite unless the protruding disc material eventually eases back into the disc. With that being said, there are sometimes ways to tell if you have a herniated disc. This article discusses signs that could indicate you have a herniated spinal disc.

Certain Movements Trigger Your Symptoms

A classic sign of a herniated spinal disc is pain triggered by normal everyday movements. For instance, you might notice symptoms that come on suddenly when you get up from a seated position. Certain sleeping positions may also trigger disc-related pain.

Your Symptoms Are Radiating to Nearby Areas

It is not uncommon for herniated disc symptoms to travel to nearby areas. For example, if the affected disc is in your
lower back, pain might extend to your legs, thighs, buttocks, or feet. This is because it is common for a damaged disc to compress nerves. If this is the case, you may notice the following symptoms:

• Numbness and tingling sensations
• General muscle weakness
• Pain that tends to come and go or is characterized by pain flare-ups

It Is Best to Get a Diagnosis from Your Doctor

The only way to know for sure if you have a
herniated disc is to talk to your doctor or a spine specialist. In some cases, you may actually have muscle spasms or issues with a spinal disc joint producing similar symptoms. A doctor or spinal specialist can perform diagnostic tests to determine with greater certainty if you have a herniated disc. This way, you can benefit more from appropriate treatment. In some cases, a doctor may be able to tell with a fair degree of certainty if you have a damaged spinal disc just by discussing your symptoms, so make sure to be as descriptive as possible when you tell the doctor about the symptoms you are experiencing.

Most Patients Benefits from Nonsurgical Treatments

Fortunately, it is often possible to benefit from nonsurgical remedies if you have a herniated spinal disc. Conservative forms of treatment often include:

• Physical therapy
• Medication that usually includes anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen
• Changes to diet and exercise habits
• Improvements with posture
• Gentle stretches or lighter forms of exercise like walking, using a stationary bike or elliptical cycle, and performing water exercises

If any of the conservative treatments mentioned above are not successful, surgery may be recommended. The most common option today for a herniated disc is partial removal of the affected disc, which is done with a discectomy or microdiscectomy. The main difference between these two surgical procedures is in how the incisions are made, although a microdiscectomy is more common today, since it is less invasive.

If you have a herniated disc that is not responding to conservative treatment, a discectomy may be discussed and potentially recommended. Although this is generally a very successful procedure, having a large hole in the outer ring of the disc more than doubles the risk of needing another operation. A new treatment, Barricaid, is a bone-anchored device that closes this hole, and 95 percent of Barricaid patients did not undergo a reoperation due to reherniation in a 2-year study time frame. This treatment is done immediately following the discectomy—during the same operation—and does not require any additional incisions or time in the hospital. 

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

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