What Happens if a Herniated Disc Goes Untreated?

Oct 1, 2020

What Happens if a Herniated Disc Goes UntreatedWhen a fragment of the spinal canal becomes displaced and is no longer properly contained, this can be known as a herniated disc. While this most commonly occurs in the lower back, it can happen at any part of the spine, and the displaced disc will usually press on nerves and cause pain in that area. This pain can indicate a tear or rupture that will lead to degeneration over time. With the help of chiropractors in Marietta, GA, you can address herniated disc before it becomes worse and causes further issues. It is important to have a herniated disc treated quickly to prevent complications in the future.

Identifying a Herniated Disc

For most people, there is not a single cause of herniated discs, though they can occur as a result of a traumatic event in rare cases. More commonly, lifting with your back instead of your legs, or twisting wrong while lifting something heavy, can lead to the issue. But in most people, herniated discs are a result of slow wear and tear called disc degeneration as a result of aging. Over time, discs lose their flexibility and are more prone to tears and ruptures in response to minor strain.

Besides age, there are other reasons you may be at risk of suffering a herniated disc. People who are overweight can be prone to the condition because of the extra stress placed on the body, and some people simply have a genetic predisposition to herniated discs. Smoking and working jobs that involve repetitive, manual labor can also be risk factors.

In many cases, symptoms will not become apparent for some time after the initial tear has occurred, but if they do appear, they often cause excruciating neck or back pain that can radiate to extremities. It is also common to experience tingling or numbness, muscle weakness, and a limited range of motion. Where symptoms are more severe may depend on which disc has slipped.

Treatment Options

Depending on the pain level and the severity of the disc’s slippage, there can be a variety of treatment options. Most cases of a herniated disc can be properly treated with non-surgical pain management and the care of a chiropractor in Marietta GA. Often, the combination of gentle spinal adjustments and exercise programs can heal slipped discs over time. After a short period of rest, you will likely work with a physical therapist to focus on strengthening the neck, back, and abdominal muscles. You may also be prescribed pain medication to help manage pain while you heal.

Symptoms typically subside within six weeks of proper treatment. If this does not happen, your doctor may look at more invasive options like surgery.

What Happens Without Treatment?

Even if you are able to tolerate the pain associated with a herniated disc, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as you suspect you are having this issue. If pain or lowered range of motion is preventing you from carrying out daily activities, it is worth having your spine evaluated by a specialist to make sure there is not an issue with your discs. When not addressed, a simple herniated disc can lead to much more serious complications and even lead to chronic conditions.

A severe slipped disc can eventually lead to permanent nerve damage or the complete severing of certain nerve impulses. When this happens, you may experience symptoms such as sharp and intense pain, irregular bowel movements, incontinence, or partial paralysis. A condition called saddle anesthesia can be caused when a herniated disc isn’t treated, leading to compressed nerves that cause a loss of sensation in the inner thighs, the back of the legs, and near the rectum.

Because herniated discs are often caused by natural degeneration, that process will also continue and worsen the slippage over time. When not addressed quickly, you may have to rely on more invasive treatments like surgery as the problem becomes more severe.

A chiropractor will be able to fully evaluate your spine to determine the best course of treatment to prevent the problem from becoming chronic and causing more pain in the future. At AICA Marietta, we offer a comprehensive approach to care, giving you access to not only chiropractors, but physical therapists, pain management specialists, and orthopedic doctors as needed. Our network of full-service clinics is equipped to help with diagnosis, treatment, and maintenance after you suffer a herniated disc or any other spinal injury. If you have been suffering from any of the symptoms discussed above, call now to make your first appointment and prevent pain in the future!


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