Having pain in your leg can come from many different sources, from wearing improper shoes to an accident or injury. One cause of leg pain that you may not be aware of is a herniated disc. Read on to learn more about what a herniated disc is and how it might be causing you leg pain.
What is a herniated disc?
A herniated disc refers to an issue with one of the discs that rests between two vertebrae or bones of your spine. The discs between vertebrae act as cushions between the two bones so they do not rub together, and are made of a tough exterior with a soft, jelly-like interior. A herniated disc occurs when some of the soft inside comes (or “herniates”) out of the harder outside shell and irritates parts of the surrounding body, particularly the nerves. Herniated discs cause sensations like tingling, shooting pain, and weakness in the legs.
What are the common causes?
Many things can cause a herniated disc, but one of the most common is simple wear and tear. A heavy strain on the back or repetitive activities that put stress on the spine or back can also lead to a hernia.
How do herniated discs affect the legs?
While herniated discs occur in the back, they often have a wide range of health repercussions, with one of the most common being leg pain. Leg pain often occurs with a lumbar herniated disc–damage in the lower back–because the herniated disc starts to impinge on a nerve on the spine, which then causes the nerve to be inflamed, sending pain signals shooting down the leg in addition to numbness, tingling and weakness.
How do you treat a herniated disc?
If you feel leg pain, the first thing you should do is make a concerted effort to take it easy. If, after two weeks of rest, your leg still hurts, then you should visit a doctor. Once a herniated disc is diagnosed, there are several options for courses of treatments. First, doctors will try non-surgical strategies. These include physical therapy, cold and heat therapies, prescription painkillers, nerve block injections to ease pain, and steroids to help with inflammation. If non-surgical treatment options do not work, doctors may recommend surgery. You can learn more about herniated disc surgery here, or by viewing this short video from the Spine-Health website.