What Does a Herniated Disk Feel Like?
The spinal column is made up of 33 bones, called vertebra, that stack on
top of one another creating a tunnel for your spinal cord. Between each
vertebrae is a disk with a tough cartilage exterior and a soft, jelly-like
center. The disks work as shock absorbers and support for the spine. A
bulging disk happens when the disk moves out of place. A herniated disk
happens when the outer layer cracks, allowing some of the soft center
to protrude out. This can happen anywhere along the spine, but is most
common in the lower back.
Herniated disks are generally more painful because they protrude out further
than a bulging disk, pressing on nearby nerves like the sciatic, or causing
inflammation at the root of the nerve. Symptoms typically occur on one
side and can include:
- Pain, numbness or tingling sensation that radiates along the lower back,
and down to the buttocks, knee and even foot
- Weakness on the affected side
- Discomfort when sitting for long periods of time
- Increased pain with a cough or sneeze
Treatment can range from rest, therapy and medications to surgery. If
you are experiencing any combination of these symptoms, see your primary
care doctor who can refer you to the proper specialist if necessary.