Do herniated discs cause pain? Are herniated discs painful? Why do herniated discs hurt? These are all common queries we receive from site readers on a weekly basis. Most patients who are diagnosed with a herniated disc only have a rudimentary knowledge of intervertebral discs, what they do and why the condition may be painful.
Doctors will rarely take the time to adequately explain any diagnosis, forget about describing in vivid detail the potential reasons why a disc pathology may or may not be painful. Even when patients do receive a comprehensive explanation, the answer is sometimes either blatantly incorrect, exaggerated, based on medical myth or purposefully delivered with enough doom and gloom to guarantee that the patient will remain a profitable customer for years to come, regardless of need.
This article will help clarify the facts of intervertebral herniations and help patients to better understand the potential for painful symptoms due to bulging or ruptured spinal discs.
The question of whether a herniation is painful is a very good one, but there is no cookie-cutter answer which can possibly be correct.
Most atypical disc conditions, such as disc desiccation, bulging and even herniation are not painful, nor are they in any way unusual. In fact, degenerative disc disease is virtually universal in the adult population and the majority of people have one or more herniated discs in their cervical or lumbar spinal regions. Most of these issues do not cause pain. Remember, a herniation itself is not inherently painful at all.
So then why do some herniations cause pain, while most do not? Also, why are so many innocent and coincidental herniations blamed for causing pain, when they do not? Finally, how will you know what type of herniation you have when this anatomical issue seems so complicated and case-specific?
Ok, so let’s address the last three questions above. First off, some herniations cause pain because of several reasons including the following possible explanations:
The herniation is enacting serious spinal stenosis which can cause pain anywhere below the affected vertebral level. This is easily diagnosed via MRI testing. Most cases of mild to moderate central canal stenosis are not symptomatic to a large degree, if at all. In fact, some degree of stenosis is a normal part of aging.
An annular tear may be spilling some of the nucleus pulposus out onto sensitized nerve tissues, enacting chemical radiculitis. This is rare, but can occur. Some people seem to be more susceptible to suffering pain from the disc protein exposure to nerve tissue, while others seem virtually immune, despite exposure.
Ok, moving on: Herniations are blamed for causing pain almost universally, since many of the beliefs of the medical system are based on an antiquated and anatomically-obsessed system known as the Cartesian Philosophy. This theory of purely structurally-induced pain has not only been shot down unequivocally by peer-reviewed research, but has also proven itself to be ridiculous, since herniated disc treatment, which is geared towards resolving the structural issues implicated, rarely cures the pain.
Furthermore, traditional medical and complementary medical providers are business people also. Doctors want to help, but they also have an economic bottom line and back care is one of the most profitable niches in the entire healthcare field.
Chronic pain = long-term financial success in medical practice. It is as simple as that. This economic incentive has shaped the way back pain is treated, or should I say managed, rather than cured, to a large extent.
In order to better your chances of not being misdiagnosed with disc pain, when all along the symptoms exist for some other reason, it is crucial to learn all you can about your diagnosis and get involved in your own treatment routine.
You should not simply allow a doctor to make all the decisions without your active input, since this could be the fast track to continuing misery and eventual failed herniated disc surgery in a great number of cases.
Instead, ask questions, get involved and become proactive. There are tons of resources available to help you, including The Cure Back Pain Network of free websites, like this one. Learn all you can and try to better understand the objective facts of your condition, rather than simply allowing one care provider, with possible financial motivations, to dictate your future and very life.