Herniated disc injuries cause tremendous back pain for millions of Americans each and every year.

While there are several treatment options available, for one reason or another, some patients don’t seek treatment. If a herniated disc is left untreated, it could have a serious impact on your life. Find out what happens when you develop a herniated disc and what you can do.

What is a Herniated Disc?

A herniated disc – also commonly referred to as a slipped disc – is when the jelly-like substance between each vertebra in your spine breaks out of place. The disc’s purpose is to keep each vertebra rubbing up against the others causing friction and they also help facilitate movement and flexibility of the spine. When one is out of place, it can cause pain to the surrounding nerves and numbness. Muscles around the herniated disc may become excessively painful and weak.

herniated disc diagram

How Do I Know If I Have a Herniated Disc?

The first thing you can do to determine whether or not you are suffering from a herniated disc is to look out for key symptoms. A herniated disc leads to numbness and weakness around the affected area. The numbing feeling will usually radiate into the back of your thighs, your neck, and even your arms. If you are having trouble controlling your bowels or bladder, or notice a sudden loss of muscle function in your arms or legs, you may be suffering from a herniated disc. To be sure, book an appointment with a back pain specialist who can provide you with the necessary testing to get confirmation of your diagnosis.

Can a Herniated Disc Heal on Its Own?

Unfortunately, a herniated disc won’t fix itself. Treatment interventions – even minor and minimally invasive ones – are necessary to treat the pain and help the patient recover. However, in today’s fast-paced world, many patients simply can’t find the time to book an appointment. If a condition like a herniated disc is left untreated, it can cause a slew of uncomfortable and potentially irreversible side effects.

Living with Back Pain

As anyone who suffers from back pain already knows, it can be a debilitating condition that can interfere with all aspects of your daily life. From your sex life to simply getting up and going up and down the stairs, all physical activity can become excruciating. Many patients can get used to some level of pain but it’s important to remember the severity of an untreated herniated disc will only worsen with time.

Permanent Nerve Damage

Because a herniated disc applies pressure to surrounding nerves, there is usually a numbing feeling around that area. While you can live with this for a while, it is definitely an indication that something is very wrong and needs to be adjusted as quickly as possible. In worst-case scenarios, patients can lose feeling in their nerves permanently. This normally leads to what is referred to as saddle anesthesia. It can also lead to loss of control over bowel movements and bladder. In cases where a herniated disc has been untreated for too long, this type of damage can be permanent. Patients may also permanently lose feeling in their legs and lower back.

Potential Loss of Income

The longer a herniated disc goes untreated, the more pain it will cause. As you age and as the problem worsens, the condition could leave you incapable of working and earning a salary. The level of pain may increase dramatically and in some cases, the pain itself can make it impossible for patients to get up and go to work – even to a job that doesn’t involve any manual labor. This could mean lost wages while you heal since sick time and disability insurance is limited.

Why Patients Ignore Herniated Disc Problems

With such disastrous possible risk factors, why would anyone forego treatment? Well, many patients worry that surgery is their only hope and that prospect can be terrifying. The good news is, there are several treatment options available that are minimally invasive and do not involve a potentially risky surgery to your spinal cord. Treatment can be anything from spinal cord stimulation to carefully administered medications, under the supervision of a team of experienced professionals.

Another barrier to seeking treatment could be because of financial limitations. MidSouth Pain recognizes this is a major concern for many people, so they have can set up payment plans that will stay within your budget. When it comes to your health, you can’t afford to take any chances.

Of course, many patients are so busy with work and family that they can’t seem to find the time to care for their ailing back. However, it is imperative that you prioritize healing before your back pain becomes unmanageable. You and your family and co-workers will suffer needlessly if you are completely incapacitated.

What Do I Do Now?

Now that you know how serious leaving a herniated disc untreated can be, you should call us today to book an appointment with one of our trained medical experts. Meeting with a knowledgeable professional can help you understand all the treatment options available to you, as well as the pros and cons of each. Sometimes, you may need to try more than one or a combination, but our experts will help find a solution to your pain.