Why Herniated Discs Can Cause Neuropathy
December 2nd, 2011: Dr.John Hayes Jr
Have you been diagnosed with a herniated disc?
If so, you probably have the usual symptoms:
Numbness (if the disc is actually pressing on a nerve)
Those symptoms are no surprise.
But what may be a surprise are other symptoms:
Severe, sharp, electric shock-like, shooting pain
Deep burning or cold in the feet or legs
Numbness, tingling or weakness in the feet and legs that doesn’t go away
Radiating pain down the legs and into the feet
Muscle spasms and deep muscle pain
And those symptoms could be caused by neuropathy – a condition you probably never heard of until you developed a herniated disc.
So Why Does a Herniated Disc Cause Neuropathy?
A herniated disc alone may not cause you that much pain. The pain you experience is caused by the disc putting pressure on the spinal cord and on nerve roots. The location and intensity of the pain you experience depends on which nerves are affected by the disc and where it’s putting pressure.
Let’s say the disc is putting pressure on nerves that lead to your feet. You will probably feel pain and numbness in your feet. The longer the pressure is on the nerve, the more the nerve will be damaged. That nerve damage can lead to neuropathy in your feet.
The same applies to the nerves in any other part of the body. If your disc is putting pressure on nerves that affect that part of the body, you’re in danger of developing nerve damage and neuropathy wherever the nerves are affected.
If you have any of the neuropathy symptoms we listed above, you need to see your doctor, preferably your local neuropathy clinician, as soon as possible. The longer you let the nerve damage go untreated, the more likely the damage will be permanent.
When you’re diagnosed with a herniated disc and develop neuropathy, the first goals of treatment are:
Pain relief – first and foremost
Address any weakness or numbness in your feet, legs and lower back
Prevention of additional injuries
Find a clinician with extensive experience in treating herniated discs and the accompanying neuropathy issues. Your local neuropathy specialist is an excellent place to start.
More than 90% of patients with herniated discs and neuropathy (if treated early on) will improve within 6 months without surgery. But you need to get in to the doctor and start treatment at the first sign of problems.
Once you get in to see your clinician, the treatment protocol will be adapted to address your particular issues. For the most part, you can expect:
Bed rest followed by increased, prescribed and controlled activity
Chiropractic manipulation to get the spine back into proper alignment and take pressure off the herniated disc and nerves
Treatment with the correct treatment system to open up nerve channels and stimulate nerve repair
Exercises to reduce your pain and strengthen the muscles in the back
Dietary counseling to address any other underlying medical issues you may have
Contacting a specialist today for information is the best course of treatment to make sure that you’re herniated disc and compressive neuropathy are treated properly and promptly. Save yourself years of back pain misery.