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When a spinal disc problem causes back pain, the source of the discomfort is either a nerve irritated by a bulging disc or the disc itself. Differentiating between the two can be difficult because doctors may use different terminology to describe the problem, such as slipping disc, bulging disc, pinched nerve, and/or degenerative disc.
Continue reading to learn more about what happens when you have a pinched nerve or a disc condition.
When a spinal disc produces mechanical compression, irritation, or inflammation of a neighbouring nerve root, it is nerve discomfort caused by the disc’s incursion that causes pain. A pinched nerve root in your lower back can cause pain to radiate down the nerve’s route into your leg and foot. Numbness, weakness, tingling, and/or a pins-and-needles sensation are all symptoms of a neurological issue.
Radiculopathy is the medical word for this sort of pain. Sciatica is a term used to describe radiculopathy caused by irritation or compression of certain nerve roots in the lower back (L4 to S3).
Pinched nerves can be produced by the following factors:
Stenosis of the spine
As a result of osteoarthritis, bone spurs form.
A pinched nerve can also be caused by other disorders, such as a tumour, infection, or spondylolisthesis, however this is less common.
Pain from a degenerated disc
If the intervertebral disc is the source of your back discomfort, this is referred to as discogenic back pain. A spinal disc can deteriorate as a result of wear and tear or trauma, causing discomfort via the following mechanisms:
- Inflammation. Inflammatory proteins may be released into the disc space as the disc degenerates. A degenerative disc may potentially herniate, allowing the inflammatory contents of the disc to leak out. These inflammatory chemicals have the potential to irritate or inflame adjacent nerves, resulting in pain. 1, 2, 3 Herniated discs can also induce pinched nerve pain, as previously mentioned.
- Shrinkage. Degeneration may result in dehydration within the disc, resulting in fluid loss and shrinking. The degree of disc shrinkage can cause spinal canal narrowing, resulting in radiculopathy.
- Instability of motion segments. Disc degeneration can also make a spinal segment unstable and less effective in resisting motion in the spine.
As the body tries to combat the inflammation, instability, and pain, the muscles in the area may spasm, causing sharp, shooting pain and exacerbating the back pain. A deteriorated disc might cause localised pain or it can radiate into your leg (radiculopathy).
Concentrate on the source of your discomfort.
You will have the best chance of discovering an effective treatment plan for long-term relief if you focus on the underlying cause of your pain rather than just symptom reduction. A doctor can perform clinical and diagnostic testing to confirm the exact cause of your discomfort and develop an effective treatment strategy.
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