Bulging Disc Symptoms Can Be Felt Anywhere From the Head Down to the Feet
Intervertebral discs are located between the vertebrae in the spine all the way from the neck down to the lower back. When these discs become damaged and bulge in different areas of the spine, they can cause symptoms to be felt in different areas of the body. While the most common bulging disc symptoms experienced by patients are pain and discomfort in the back or neck, a bulging disc can cause symptoms of pain, tingling, numbness, muscle weakness, spasms, and discomfort to be felt anywhere from the head to the feet.
Why Are Symptoms Felt in Your Legs When the Bulging Disc is in Your Back?
When a toe is stubbed, pain is felt in the toe. When a knee is scraped, it is felt in the knee. Why is it, then, that pain in the legs can be caused by something rooted in the back? The answer is actually pretty simple. The spinal column is home to a plethora of nerve roots that branch off the spinal cord and travel throughout the body, including the sciatic nerve, which provides much of the feeling for the lower body. When a disc bulges into the sciatic nerve, the nerve feels compressed and irritated and sends a pain signal into the lower body. Tingling, numbness, or muscle weakness are among other bulging disc symptoms that may occur if the nerve signal becomes interrupted or blocked by the compression being placed on the nerve.
The Relationship Between Bulging Discs and Sciatica
Before understanding the relationship between sciatica and bulging discs, it might help to understand how they differ. A bulging disc is a physical condition, and sciatica is a set of symptoms. The symptoms of sciatica - which are often felt on one side of the body - include pain, numbness, weakness, and tingling in the lower back, buttocks, legs, or feet. Sciatica is caused by the compression of the sciatic nerve, which is the largest nerve in the body, spanning from the lower back, through the pelvic region, down each leg to the bottom of each foot.
Compression of the sciatic nerve can be caused by a variety of conditions, such as a bulging disc or a herniated disc; although, the damaged disc would have to be located in the lower back, where the sciatic nerve begins, to cause sciatica. Therefore, there is a cause-effect relationship between bulging discs and sciatica, but bulging discs do not always cause sciatica, and sciatica is not always caused by a bulging disc. If you think you are experiencing sciatica, see your doctor, and find out if a bulging disc could be causing your symptoms.