A slipped or ruptured disc
When the soft inner core of a spinal disc protrudes through the outer layer, it can compress nearby nerves and cause pain, numbness, or weakness.
A herniated disc refers to a condition where the soft inner core of a spinal disc protrudes or leaks through a tear or weakened area in the outer layer of the disc. Spinal discs are the cushions or shock absorbers located between the vertebrae (bones) of the spine, providing flexibility and allowing for movement.
When a disc herniates, the inner gel-like substance, called the nucleus pulposus, can press against nearby spinal nerves, resulting in various symptoms. The condition commonly occurs in the lower back (lumbar spine) or the neck (cervical spine) but can happen in any part of the spine.Rolando Garcia, MD, MPH
Symptoms of a herniated disc may vary depending on the location and severity of the herniation, as well as the nerves affected.
Common symptoms include:
- Pain: Herniated discs often cause localized pain in the affected area of the spine. In the lower back, this pain may radiate down the buttocks, thighs, and legs (sciatica). In the neck, it can radiate into the shoulders, arms, and hands.
- Numbness or Tingling: Compression of spinal nerves can lead to numbness or tingling sensations in the areas supplied by those nerves. For example, in the case of a herniated disc in the lower back, numbness or tingling may be felt in the buttocks, legs, or feet.
- Muscle Weakness: If nerves responsible for muscle control are affected, muscle weakness or difficulty in lifting or holding objects may occur. This weakness is typically associated with the specific muscle groups supplied by the affected nerves.
- Changes in Reflexes: A herniated disc can impact the reflexes controlled by the affected nerves. Reflexes may be diminished or exaggerated in response to specific stimuli.
- Changes in Sensation: Sensory changes may occur in the areas supplied by the affected nerves. This can manifest as reduced sensitivity to touch, heat, or cold in specific regions.
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