You might think a ruptured disc, in your back would cause you to have terrible back pain—and, yes, it often does. (The word “ruptured” is somewhat of a giveaway!) But back pain is far from the only sign, and, in fact, some of the symptoms of a ruptured disc just might surprise you.
If the word “sciatica” gives you the shivers, you’re not alone. Even those who have never suffered from sciatica know all about this painful condition. While sciatica can be caused by spinal stenosis or degenerative disc disease, it can also be a product of a ruptured disc.
“If the disc herniation is large enough, the disc tissue can press on the adjacent spinal nerves that exit the spine at the level of the disc herniation,” said MedicineNet. “This can cause shooting pain in the distribution of that nerve and usually occurs on one side of the body and is referred to as sciatica. For example, a disc herniation at the level between the fourth and fifth lumbar vertebrae of the low back can cause a shooting pain down the buttock into the back of the thigh and down the leg. Sometimes this is associated with numbness, weakness, and tingling in the leg. The pain often is worsened upon standing and decreases with lying down.”
2. Muscle weakness
Did you have an extra-tough workout or do you have a ruptured disc? It might be hard to tell unless you visit a spine doctor (which you should obviously do). When the disc presses on a nerve, symptoms may include: weakness in certain muscles in one or both legs; pain in the front of the thigh; and severe deep muscle pain and muscle spasms,” said WebMD.
3. Arm or shoulder pain
A cervical ruptured disc is one that occurs in your upper spine. It typically causes neck pain, but that pain can also extend to one or more arms and shoulders. Pain may also radiate down into your hands, creating a tingling or burning sensation, or making your arm and hand muscles feel fatigued.
4. Pain in your buttocks
When the ruptured disc is in the lumbar region, or lower back, the pain of sciatica can often be concentrated in the upper buttocks. You may try sitting, standing, leaning, and laying down, and still not find a comfortable position. A trip to the spine doctor is typically the only way to find ongoing relief. Visit a doctor who specializes in minimally invasive treatments for a more conservative approach that can go after your pain with a combination of rest, anti-inflammatories, hot and cold, and stretching exercises. Steroid injections area typical next step, and, if sufferers have still not achieved relief, minimally invasive surgical procedures may be considered.
5. Loss of bladder or bowel control
If you suddenly become incontinent, unable to control your bowels, or experience sudden sexual dysfunction, you could be suffering from cauda equine syndrome. This is a medically emergent condition that, in rare cases, can be caused by a ruptured disc. Immediate medical attention is necessary to avoid permanent disability.
If you’re experiencing back pain that you think might be a ruptured disc, you may need to see a doctor and seek treatment. Advancements in minimally invasive procedures have changed the game for those who have been suffering from back pain. There are a variety of minimally invasive treatments for back pain as well. Long surgeries and recoveries associated with traditional procedures can now be a thing of the past, with shorter operations, smaller incisions, and quicker recoveries. Many minimally invasive surgical procedures can also be done on an outpatient basis with complete recovery in a few weeks.