When you are experiencing back pain due to a spinal disc problem, the pain source is either from a disc pinched nerve or the protrusion of the disc itself. Here in this blog, we will share some major causes triggering pinched nerve or degenerated disc problems.
- Your lower back pain caused by a pinched nerve root can radiate along the nerve’s path into your leg and foot.
- Herniated discs, spinal stenosis, and the occurrence of bone spurs due to osteoarthritis are the significant reasons behind pinched nerves.
- If the intervertebral disc is the source of your back pain, it is referred to as discogenic back pain.
- Inflammation, shrinkage, and motion segment instability are some of the significant conditions that may cause degenerated disc pain.
- Before formulating/implementing the accurate treatment plan, it is crucial to identify the exact source of pain.
The intensity of back pain can range from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp, or shooting pain. It can appear suddenly if you have experienced a sudden or traumatic accident or as a result of heavy weight lifting. It can also develop with age and time. The primary sources of acute back pain may include pinched nerve and degenerated disc. Differentiating between the two can be confusing, due to the variety of terms used for describing the problem by doctors, like a slipped disc, protruding disc, pinched nerve, or degenerated disc.
Pinched Nerve Pain
The mechanical compression or swelling around the nerve roots does not mean there is a disorder in the disc area rather it may occur as a result of intrusion in the nerve area that may cause pain. Pain in your lower back region is usually caused by a pinched nerve root that can radiate into your leg and foot along the nerve’s path. You can also experience the symptoms of neurological problems, like weakness, numbness, tingling, or a pins-and-needles sensation.
The pinched nerve pain is commonly referred to as radiculopathy. If irritation or compression of a particular nerve root in the lower back (L4 to S3) causes radiculopathy, it is medically termed as sciatica.
Some of the primary causes of pinched nerves may include:
- Herniated discs.
- Spinal stenosis.
- The occurrence of bone spurs due to osteoarthritis.
Other less common conditions like infection, tumor, or spondylolisthesis may also cause pinched nerves.
Symptoms of Pinched Nerve Pain
Some of the most common symptoms that you may experience with a pinched nerve are mentioned below:
- Sciatica, that involves tingling, pain, weakness, and numbness that may appear in your lower back, hips, buttocks, legs, ankles, and feet.
- Sharp or radiating pain in the affected area.
- Weakness or numbness around the affected region.
- Muscle spasms.
- Reflex loss.
Degenerated Disc Pain
If the intervertebral disc is the source of your back pain, it is known as discogenic back pain. A traumatic injury or wear and tear may cause the disc degeneration and can trigger pain by the following mentioned mechanisms:
After the disc degeneration, inflammatory proteins may be released into the disc space. A degenerated disc may also herniate, resulting in the leakage of its provocative inner content. Nearby nerves are irritated or inflamed by inflammatory agents, resulting in severe pain.
Dehydration within the disc may occur due to degeneration, leading to the loss and shrinkage of fluid content. As a result, the spinal canal becomes narrow, causing radiculopathy.
- Motion Segment Instability
Spinal segments may become unstable and ineffective in resisting the spine’s motion due to disc degeneration. Muscle spasms may occur as your body attempts to resist the instability, inflammation, and pain. It may worsen causing sharp and extreme back pain.
The chances of occurrence of the neurological problems may increase if the disc herniates in the direction of the nerve root or the spinal cord. It can be very serious and require immediate treatment. Although it is extremely rare, if it happens, it may result in the paralysis of both the upper and lower extremities.
Focusing the Source of Your Pain
You can get rid of your pain by identifying the accurate source of the problem. CT scan/Myelogram, MRI scan, and discogram are some of the diagnostic tests performed to identify and assess the level of pain. An accurate diagnosis of the actual cause will help your specialist formulate the best-suited treatment plan for you.
After physical examination of the patient and carefully observing the symptoms, the accuracy of the results is tested and matched with the report of the MRI scan. Depending upon the accuracy of results obtained, the underlying cause can be figured out whether it has originated from a pinched nerve, herniated disc, or any other condition.