Home » Spine Conditions » Herniated Disc » Where is herniated disc pain located?
Herniated disc pain can be located both locally and in the extremities. Local pain can be caused by irritation of the nerve endings in the disc wall by the herniated disc material. Traveling symptoms, like pain, tingling, numbness, cramping and weakness in the upper or lower extremities are the result of nerve compression by the damaged disc. The specific location of these symptoms depends on the level of the spine where the herniated disc has developed.
Learning more about the causes and locations of herniated disc pain can help you work more closely with your doctor if this condition is affecting your life. By being able to ask him or her the right questions, and better understand the answers, you can create a treatment plan with the best chance of returning you to the people and activities you’ve been missing.
Why does herniated disc pain spread to other areas?
In addition to supporting the upper body and allowing for movement, the spine also protects the spinal cord and nerve roots, which branch out to send sensory and motor signals to the rest of the body. Because all of the spinal components are located very close to each other, even a little bit of displacement can cause problems. In the case of a herniated disc, extruded material from the center can narrow the nerve pathways and put pressure on spinal nerves.
What areas can be affected?
Most herniated discs occur in the cervical (upper) or lumbar (lower) regions of the spine, due to the relative flexibility of these regions compared to the more stable thoracic (middle) spine. A herniated disc located in the lumbar region can cause symptoms in the buttocks, hips, legs and feet. Sciatica, which is painful lower body symptoms caused by compression of the long sciatic nerve, is often caused by a herniated lumbar disc.
Herniated discs in the cervical spine might lead to pain in the neck, shoulder or arm. While less common, a herniated disc in the thoracic spine can affect the chest, middle back or abdomen.
What are the options for treatment?
If a herniated disc is diagnosed as the source of symptoms, treatment usually begins with a course of conservative treatment options such as rest, medication, ice packs and physical therapy. You may be recommended for surgery if continued treatments don’t improve symptoms enough for a return to your normal activity level.
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