Suffering a herniated disc can be painful and debilitating. A herniated disc occurs when the soft cushion that sits between the spinal vertebrae gets pushed outside its normal boundary.
A herniated disc becomes more common as you age. When you are young, these discs are soft and pliable, but as you age they lose their elasticity and become more vulnerable to injury.
MRIs show that by the age of 30, this loss of elasticity has already reached about 30%.
Common symptoms include back pain, leg pain, or weakness of the lower extremities. These symptoms are due to the irritation of the nerve as it is constricted and pinched. More specifically you can expect to feel:
- Electric shock type pain
- Tingling and or numbness
- Muscle weakness
- Bowel or bladder problems
While age is a contributing factor, there are other factors that can increase your risk, including a fall or an accident, or repetitive straining of the back.
Diagnosis starts with a physical examination by your doctor, who will check your muscle strength, reflexes, and physical sensations. For a full diagnosis, they will often have to use an MRI.