We use our back for lots of activities — probably more than we realize. When we lift, bend, walk, climb stairs, even sit still — the back plays a pivotal role. It’s no real surprise, then, that back pain is one of the most common medical complaints among both men and women in the U.S., as well as a major cause of work absences and disability.
Lots of issues can cause back pain, but two of the most common causes are muscle strain and herniated discs. Both conditions have different causes, and both require very different types of treatment. But how can you tell whether the pain you’re experiencing is due to strain or if it’s from a herniated disc? The first step is to know what symptoms to look for.
A herniated disc occurs when one of the spongy discs located between each pair of spine bones gets squeezed out of its normal position and bulges outward, beyond the edge of the bones. The bulging or herniated part of the disc presses on nerves as they exit the spine, resulting in pain and other symptoms.
Since herniated discs involve nerve compression, the symptoms they cause can feel a lot different from the symptoms associated with muscle strain. Here’s how to tell if your back pain might be caused by a herniated disc:
Herniated discs can occur in just about anyone, but they’re more common among people who are:
Repetitive movements like bending or lifting, as well as carrying unbalanced loads like a heavy backpack or shoulder bag, can also increase your risk for developing a herniated disc.
Of course, the only real way to know what’s causing your back pain is to have a medical evaluation of your back and your symptoms. At Premier Spine Institute, Dr. Bonaventure Ngu uses advanced diagnostics to determine the specific cause of back pain so every patient can feel confident they’ll receive the most appropriate care for optimal relief. To find out what’s causing your back pain and how to relieve it, visit our contact page and call our Baytown, Humble, or Woodlands office today.