How Herniated Disc Symptoms Are Caused
Herniated disc symptoms depend largely on the severity of the hernia, or tear. In a very minor tear, the disc's inner fluid may not even seep out, and symptoms may not be felt at all. In more severe cases, the fluid from the disc's inner nucleus pulposus can seep out and irritate the disc wall, or press on and irritate a nerve root or the spinal cord.
Symptoms of a herniated disc can include localized pain and discomfort, as well as pain, stiffness, numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, muscle spasms, and other discomfort radiating into the limbs.
Local Herniated Disc Symptoms
When herniated disc symptoms are local it means that the symptoms are felt at, or very near, the site where the disc has herniated. When local symptoms are felt, it could indicate that nerves within the disc wall, or annulus fibrosus, are irritated due to the wall being torn open and exposed to inflammatory fluids that have seeped out from the discâ€™s nucleus pulposus.
Herniated Disc Symptoms Felt Throughout the Body
Herniated disc symptoms can also travel to almost anywhere in the body. The reason for this is that the spine is home to 31 pairs of nerve roots that give way to smaller nerves branching away into all different parts of the body. When a discâ€™s inner fluid seeps out and irritates a nerve root, it may cause symptoms to travel along the path of subsidiary nerves and be felt at various nerve endings. In the cervical (neck) region of the spine, the nerve roots travel through the shoulders, arms, hands, and into the fingers. In the lumbar (lower back) region of the spine, the nerve roots travel down through the buttocks, legs, feet, and into the toes. That is the reason why pain in your calf or stiffness in your shoulder may be attributed to a herniated disc.