While chronic back pain often results from workplace wear-and-tear, a sharp, sudden pain could indicate a herniated disk, sometimes called a slipped disk. With this common condition, one of the disks that make up the spine ruptures, and the internal gel in the disk moves out of place. This results in significant nerve pain, loss of function and immobility.
Understand the symptoms of a herniated disk and seek immediate medical care for this painful injury.
The pain associated with a herniated disk usually affects the lower back. Sometimes, the discomfort radiates from above the hips down the buttocks, into the thighs and even down the legs.
A person with a herniated disk usually experiences pain during activity and relief when resting. Even the smallest movements, such as sitting, sneezing or coughing, can trigger nerve pain from the injured area.
Other symptoms of a herniated disk may include numbness, burning, tingling or muscle weakness. Some people struggle to control the muscles surrounding the injury. In a severe case, a person can lose control of their bladder and bowel functions. IF that happens, go to the emergency room and ask for a “neurosurgical consult.” Insist on it, lest you develop “cauda equina syndrome.” Bob Bollinger has handled several cases in which the ruptured disk in the lower back caused permanent dysfunction of the bladder. Those clients all suffered immensely as a result.
Left untreated, permanent nerve damage can result from a slipped disk. Some individuals experience long-term complications, such as loss of sensation in the pelvic area and loss of bowel or bladder control, that cause permanent disability.
Depending on the severity of the injury, some people can return to work after a physical therapy program. Doctors typically recommend over-the-counter or prescription pain medications to treat the pain associated with a herniated disk, and attempt surgery only in the worst cases.
Disk injury symptoms that fail to resolve within six weeks may require surgery. The doctor may completely remove the protruding disk and fuse the vertebrae to prevent further nerve damage.