Complications of Herniated Disc

The discs that cover the spinal bones act as shock absorbers, thus preventing injury to the spine. The structure of the disc comprises an outer layer that is called the annulus and an inner nucleus. When a disc is herniated, it means that the annulus which forms the outer layer of the vertebral disk has been damaged and, therefore, the disc penetrates to the spinal cord compressing it.

Compression of the spine causes the spinal nerves to be pressed and this is what causes the back pain in Austin that you may experience when you have a herniated disc. Herniated discs commonly occur on the cervical and the lumbar spines and therefore the symptoms that you experience will depend on which part of the spine has been affected. Treatment will depend on the area that is affected and the severity of your condition and therefore different people are treated differently.

What Are the Causes of Herniated Disc?

A herniated disc can be caused by trauma to the back which damages the vertebral discs. Old age is accompanied by degeneration of the ligaments that hold the vertebral discs and therefore increases the risk of herniated discs. You might develop a herniated disc because you are genetically predisposed to the condition.

Being overweight puts a lot of pressure on the vertebral discs and therefore makes them prone to herniation. Excessive straining of your back can also cause your vertebral discs to become herniated. Lifting a lot of weight with your back also puts you at risk of disc herniation. You are therefore more likely to get herniated discs if you are old, obese, a smoker, have a family history of herniated discs, and if your occupation involves lifting heavy weights with your back.

What Are the Symptoms of Herniated Disc?

Depending on which part of your spine is affected, herniated disc symptoms will present themselves differently in different people. The cervical herniated disc presents itself with neck pain and numbness of the hands and arms. You can also experience tingling in your upper limbs. Your upper limbs may also feel weak. Sneezing or making awkward movements worsens the pain. The pain can be sharp and dull. A herniated disc in the cervical region is called cervical radiculopathy.

Herniated pain in the lumbar region presents with pain that radiates to the leg. The pain may be accompanied by numbness of your lower limbs. Weakness and tingling are other symptoms of a herniated disc in the lumbar spine. The pain is worsened by lifting heavy weights with your back and sitting for a long duration.

What Are the Complications of Herniated Discs?

The herniated disc can affect the nerves that supply the rectum and bladder leading to a lack of control of the bowel and bladder function which causes bowel and urine incontinence. The numbness that is caused by herniated discs can progress to paralysis. A herniated disc can also cause cauda equina syndrome and chronic pain.


A herniated disc occurs when the annulus layer of the vertebral disc degenerates or gets damaged causing the disc to penetrate and compress the spinal cord. Compression of the spinal cord injures the spinal nerves in the cervical or lumbar region leading to pain and numbness of the upper and lower limbs. Complications of a herniated disc include urine and bowel incontinence, paralysis, cauda equina syndrome, and chronic pain.