The spinal disc is a soft cushion that sits between each vertabrae of the spine. This spinal disc becomes more rigid with age. In a young individual, the disc is soft and elastic, but like so many other structures in the body, the disc gradually looses its elasticity and is more vulnerable to injury. In fact, even in individuals as young as 30, MRIs show evidence of disc deterioration in about 30% of people.
As the spinal disc becomes less elastic, it can rupture. When the disc ruptures, a portion of the spinal disc pushes outside its normal boundary–this is called a herniated disc. When a herniated disc bulges out from between the vertebrae, the spinal nerves and spinal cord can become pinched. There is normally a little extra space around the spinal cord and spinal nerves, but if enough of the herniated disc is pushed out of place, then these structures may be compressed.
Common symptoms of a herniated disc include
Electric Shock Pain: Pressure on the nerve can cause abnormal sensations, commonly experienced as electric shock pains. When the compression occurs in the cervical (neck) region, the shocks go down your arms, when the compression is in the lumbar (low back) region, the shocks go down your legs.
- Tingling & Numbness: Patients often have abnormal sensations such as tingling, numbness, or pins and needles. These symptoms may be experienced in the same region as painful electric shock sensations.
- Muscle Weakness: Because of the nerve irritation, signals from the brain may be interrupted causing muscle weakness. Nerve irritation can also be tested by examining reflexes.
- Bowel or Bladder Problems.