Is your Back Pain due to a Pinched Nerve or Herniated Disc?

Do you have pain in your neck or back and are wondering whether you are suffering from a pinched nerve or a herniated disc?

Pinched nerves and herniated discs are two of the most common caused of chronic pain in the neck and back.

It’s important to know that herniated discs and pinched nerves can also happen at the same time. This happens because pinched nerves can be the result of a herniated disc pressing against the nerve.

Read on to understand the difference between the two.

Herniated Discs

Herniated discs are most often caused by gradual wear and tear and disc degeneration. Other causes include –

  • Weight – Being overweight can cause pressure on the discs in your back.
  • Certain Jobs – Is your job involves lifting heavy things or twisting, it can lead to degenerative discs and pinched nerves.
  • Sports Injuries
  • Weak muscles and a sedentary lifestyle may also contribute to the development of a slipped or herniated disc.

Symptoms of a herniated disc include –

  • Arm or leg pain
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Weakness

Pinched Nerves

Apart from a herniated disc, a pinched nerve can be caused due to –

  • Sports or other injury
  • Poor posture
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Obesity or being overweight

The symptoms for pinched nerves are almost identical to the symptoms of a herniated disc. Following are the symptoms of pinched nerves –

  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Tingling
  • Feeling like your limb has “fallen asleep”
  • Extreme burning or pain

Herniated Disc and Pinched Nerve Treatment

The treatments for pinched nerves and herniated discs are almost identical. Treatments include:

Medication – Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), ibuprofen and naproxen and muscle relaxants can help to reduce swelling and pain.

Oral corticosteroids – Oral steroids may be used to reduce swelling and pain.

Opioids – Prescription painkillers can be used, under close monitoring, for brief periods if the pain is severe.

Epidural Steroid injections – Cortisone and other types of steroids can be injected at the site of inflammation to reduce inflammation can drastically help your pain levels. Epidural injections do not cure herniation but provide relief for up to six months and allow greater function while the body is trying to absorb the disc herniation.

Physical therapy – Physical therapy and exercises can help to strengthen the muscles in the affected area to relieve pressure on the nerve. Activity modifications for activities that aggravate the nerve may be recommended.