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Many people with low back pain think that they have a herniated disc. In fact, only about four percent of people with a herniated disc suffer from low back pain. Most often those with a herniated disc will have no symptoms at all for some time. However, there are some symptoms that you may have when you have a herniated disc.
The type of symptoms that you have will vary based on the location of the herniated disc. The hernia may be located in the lower back, middle back, or neck areas of the spine. Each location of the herniated disc produces different symptoms. However, some symptoms may appear very similar between the three types of a herniated disc.
If your herniated disc is located in the lower back you may experience no symptoms at all. However, if the hernia is pinching a nerve you may have pain, numbness, or weakness in one leg. When pain radiates from the lower back through the buttocks and into one leg this condition is called sciatica.
Leg pain related to this location of the herniated disc often occurs in only one leg, and may start out as a minor pain that worsens over time. It may come and go, and it may occur as shooting pains rather than a constant pain. The pain may be relieved when shifting into a position that takes pressure off of the lower back.
If your herniated disc is located in the middle back, you may experience pain in the front of your thigh. This pain is typically dull pain rather than the shooting pains or intermittent pain that is particular to a herniated disc in the lower back. Typically no actual back pain is present with this type of herniated disc.
If your herniated disc is located in the neck, you may experience pain or numbness in the arms, chest, or shoulders. This pain may be a pins and needles sensation, a sharp shooting pain, or weakness. In other words, this type of pain is much like the pain that can occur when the hernia is in the lower part of the spine.
If you experience any of these symptoms you should contact your medical professional as soon as possible. While a herniated disc can be successfully treated at home in some cases, untreated herniated discs can lead to potentially serious complications and could even require surgery in severe cases. It is best to seek medical advice before continuing treatment on your own. At the very least, your doctor can help you to determine viable treatment options to lessen your pain and regain your mobility.
If your herniated disc results in weakness in both legs and a lack of bladder or bowel control, you may have a serious but rare condition called a cauda equina syndrome. These symptoms are typically present and debilitating with this condition, which often requires surgery. If you have these symptoms you should not wait to see your doctor, but call an ambulance or seek immediate medical attention at your nearest hospital or urgent care center.