Wednesday, February 3, 2010

How Can I Tell that I Have a Herniated Disc?

Chances are, during the course of your life, you've heard someone talk about having "slipped a disc." They likely mean a herniated disc. It's something I encounter week in, week out at Living Well Medical here in NYC. Maybe you got into a car accident that did it. People with jobs that require a lot of heavy lifting or weight-bearing are also some of the more common sufferers. What's more, as you get older, it gets easier for a spinal disc to herniate.

Now, not everyone who has a herniated disc will even feel pain. We see it all the time. On the other hand, there is definitely the potential for severe pain.

So maybe you have some awful back or neck pain, and you suspect a herniated disc. How in the world can you possibly tell if it is, in fact, a disc herniation? Are there certain symptoms? Are there any signs that conclusively point to it as the culprit? I'll explore these questions a little below and hopefully help anyone with chronic low back or neck pain get some answers.

There are symptoms that are associated with a herniated disc. Radiating arm and/or leg pain, a weak grip, numbness, tingling, pins and needles, deep muscle pain, and pain in the mornings and nights are all symptoms that one can experience because of a herniated disc. Unfortunately, there are a number of nerve entrapments causes that can lead to similar symptoms, so in terms of a "definitive" set of symptoms, a self-diagnosis for any one of these symptoms just can't be 100% accurate.

The only sure-fire way to know if you have a herniated disc is to get medical imaging scan done, specifically an MRI. I know, probably not the news you were hoping to hear, but the truth is that there are just too many other potential reasons for the types of pain described above. Diagnostic imaging can give a physician the detailed images of the spine they need to understand what is happening to you.

If you are in pain, Living Well Medical in NYC has a strong relationship with MRI facilities throughout the city, so you can get the help you need. And if you do have a herniated disc, we can prescribe effective, non-surgical treatment like spinal decompression, gentle chiropractic care, and physical therapy. Give us a call at 212-645-8151 today if you need someone who can guide you through stopping pain.

- Dr. Shoshany