Between the vertebrae of your spine are soft discs that let your spine twist, bend and also absorb shocks. But a herniated disc happens when the vertebrae are damaged, allowing the disc’s soft center to push through the disc wall. This bulge presses against nerves in your spine causing pain. A herniated disc can be caused by the normal wear and tear of aging as your spinal discs become less flexible and more prone to cracks and tears as you age. Herniated discs also are caused by traumatic injury or heavy lifting.
Symptoms depend on the severity of the herniation, and at what level of your spine it has happened. Note that most herniated discs happen in the lumbar spine, or what is considered the lower back. Along with pain, you may experience numbness, weakness and tingling in the buttocks, leg or foot. A herniation in your cervical spine, or upper back, can cause problems in your neck, shoulders, arms and hands.
Your individualized treatment plan depends on your injury but you may benefit from rest, medications, injections and physical therapy. If these don’t help, you may need surgery. Your PCA physician will work with you to create an individualized treatment plan.