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Back Pain Health Center

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Understanding Spinal Disk Problems -- Symptoms

What Are the Symptoms of Spinal Disk Problems?

The symptoms of a spinal disk problem depend on the location of the problem in the spine. Typically, the disks of the neck (cervical) or lower back (lumbar) are the most commonly affected. When the disk puts pressure on the spinal nerves, you may have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Sharp pain in the back, sometimes going down the back of one or both legs (commonly known as sciatica); the pain can start immediately during exertion or injury, or shortly afterward.
  • Inability to bend or straighten your back, accompanied by severe pain
  • Gradual development of neck or lower back pain, possibly intense upon arising or when sneezing or coughing
  • Numbness or tingling in your arm or leg
  • Progressive loss of strength in one or both arms and legs


Recommended Related to Back Pain

TENS for Back Pain

TENS, or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, is a back pain treatment that uses low voltage electric current to relieve pain. TENS is typically done with a TENS unit, a small battery-operated device. The device can be hooked to a belt and is connected to two electrodes. The electrodes carry an electric current from the TENS machine to the skin.

Read the TENS for Back Pain article > >


Call Your Doctor About Back Pain If:

  • You experience severe pain in the neck, upper back, or lower back, especially if the pain radiates into your arm or leg
  • Back pain is accompanied by fever; you may have a viral or bacterial infection.
  • You have a sudden loss of feeling or weakness in your extremities or loss of bowel or bladder control; you may have an injury to your spinal cord, which may indicate an urgent need for surgery.


WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on April 15, 2015

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