Why Does My Back Hurt?
Lower back pain can occur for several reasons. A person may have overexerted during exercise or slept in an awkward position for a night or two. Most of the time, back pain goes away with some simple rest and ice therapy. When the pain doesn’t go away, however, there may be a more significant injury to blame. Consider these 3 telltale signs that that lower back pain is a slipped disc.
1. Sciatic nerve pain
For many patients, a slipped disc presses against the sciatic nerve roots. These nerves are close to the lower back and radiate down the backs of the legs. If a herniated disc presses against the sciatic nerve, a person may experience symptoms of sciatica, including numbness, weakness, or tingling along the backs of the legs. Typically, the pain only affects one leg at a time. If sciatica appears out of nowhere, the root cause may be a slipped disc.
2. Pain that worsens in specific times
For many people with a ruptured disc, lower back pain worsens at nighttime. Or, the pain might increase with specific activities, such as while sitting for long periods. The act of sitting puts significant pressure on the lower spinal discs, and this pressure may make discomfort more pronounced.
3. Muscle numbness or weakness
Similar to sciatica, when a slipped disc presses on surrounding nerves, the result can be tingling, numbness, or weakness. For some people, this pain might even radiate through the arms or cause hands to fall asleep. This might also manifest as a burning sensation and could affect a person’s ability to control muscles.
What causes a slipped disc?
In between the vertebrae of the spinal column sit small discs. These discs act as cushioning so that people can twist, lift, and move without the bones of the spinal column rubbing against each other and causing pain. Each disc has two parts: a soft, jelly-like inner portion, and a tough exterior. When an injury causes the inner portion of the disc to push out through the outer portion, this is referred to as a slipped, herniated, or ruptured disc.
Many people can manage the pain of a slipped disc with conservative treatments such as simple stretches, over-the-counter pain relievers, and taking a few days of rest. If these interventions don’t relieve pain, a healthcare provider may recommend prescription medications, or, in more severe cases, surgery to remove or repair the disc. For more information about slipped discs and treatment options, schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider.