Herniated discs cause muscle weakness, as well as other symptoms, as a result of a spinal nerve root or spinal cord compression. Spinal nerve roots send signals from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body, and back again, which explains why pain or discomfort in the extremities can often stem from neck and back issues. Should the soft cushions between the vertebrae, known as discs, dislodge or rupture, there is a risk of the adjoining nerve roots and the spinal cord becoming compressed. If the nerve roots or spinal cord are under too much pressure, they may be unable to carry signals from the brain to various muscles in the body, making muscles feel weak and unresponsive.
Symptoms of muscle weakness from herniated discs
While a herniated back disc may never cause symptoms, if a nerve root has become compressed or inflamed by a herniated disc, it can potentially inhibit muscle reflexes or even basic function in any area of the body innervated by that nerve root. The extent of muscle weakness experienced is entirely dependent on specific spinal nerves being compressed by the herniated disc. In the lumbar spine (lower back), a compressed nerve root can be the cause of lower back pain, but also numbness, tingling and muscle weakness in the legs and feet, typically on one side of the body. Meanwhile, a herniated cervical disc (in the neck) can cause neck pain and weakness in an arm and hand.
In addition to muscle weakness, the most common symptoms of a herniated disc are:
Treatments for muscle weakness from herniated discs
In the event that muscle weakness from a herniated disc is suspected, it is important to visit a doctor to both confirm the origin of the problem and develop a course of action. Treatment options to address the weakness can vary. Often, muscle weakness can be treated with a conservative approach — including physical therapy, exercise, stretching, over-the-counter or prescription medication and hot and cold packs. Occasionally, a conservative approach isn’t entirely effective against muscle weakness, in which case a surgical alternative may be suggested.
Living with muscle weakness does not need to be permanent, and with advances in modern medicine, there are exciting alternatives to traditional open back disc surgery.
If you are experiencing muscle weakness as a result of a herniated disc, contact the knowledgeable staff at USA Spine Care to learn more about the outpatient procedures we offer to help you regain your strength.
To determine if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery, reach out to USA Spine Care and ask for your no-cost MRI review today.*
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