5 Spinal Conditions That Can Cause Numbness
Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: June 7, 2022
If you’ve ever fallen asleep in an awkward position, you know what it feels like to experience numbness and tingling in an area of your body. But what happens if you notice that you’re experiencing numbness, tingling and muscle weakness in one area of your body and you can’t figure out why the symptoms are present? In many instances, numbness in the arms and legs can actually be caused by an issue in your spine. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at five spinal conditions that can cause numbness in your extremities.
Back Issues Causing Numbness
Numbness, a tingling sensation and muscle weakness are all issues that are commonly caused by an issue with one or more of your nerves. Since a large portion of nerves are housed in your spinal canal, it’s not uncommon for an issue with a spinal nerve to cause symptoms along the nerve pathway in your arm or leg. Here’s a look at five spinal issues that could lead to localized or radiating numbness.
- Bulging Disc – A bulging disc occurs when a healthy spinal disc begins to become deformed as a result of acute or chronic stress. When this spinal disc starts to become misshapen, it can compress or irritate nearby nerves, leading to a number of the symptoms we’ve already discussed. Fortunately, many bulging discs can be effectively managed with the help of conservative methods like physical therapy, stretching, posture adjustments and weight loss.
- Herniated Disc – If a bulging disc goes unmanaged or a disc becomes overloaded in an acute moment of stress, it can herniate. When this happens, the gel-like center of the disc ruptures through the tough outer layer, similar to how jelly may spill out of a jelly-filled donut if it was compressed. This disc herniation will likely irritate nearby nerves and lead to more severe symptoms than you might experience with a bulging disc. The same conservative methods are also successful at helping a patient find relief, although it’s more likely that a minimally invasive operation to address the disc is needed compared to patients dealing with a bulging disc.
- Spinal Stenosis – Spinal stenosis occurs when the canal through which spinal nerves pass along the spine ends up shrinking, leaving less room for these nerves to travel unimpeded. Stenosis can be brought on by a number of different issues, including the disc issues mentioned above or problems like disc degeneration. Physical therapy, stretching and anti-inflammatory medications can help calm inflammation that may be narrowing this spinal canal, otherwise a decompression operation can help to provide more room for these nerves to pass.
- Pinched Nerve – If a spinal nerve becomes compressed by a bone or scar tissue, it can lead to numbness, muscle weakness and significant pain. Shifted spinal discs are a common cause of nerve compression, but so too is the formation of scar tissue following a surgical procedure in the area. Most pinched nerves can be effectively managed with the help of some of the conservative treatments listed above, but a minimally invasive surgery may also be available if symptoms persist.
- Sciatica – The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body, beginning in the lumbar portion of your spine before branching off down each of your legs. If this nerve becomes compressed or damaged for any reason, be it a disc issue, postural stress on the nerve or irritation due to gait problems, you may experience numbness in your lower back, butt or legs. We’ve talked about some common sciatic nerve compression problems on the blog in the past, and we’d be happy to help find a solution for you if sciatic nerve irritation is contributing to your symptoms.
If you’re dealing with numbness in your lower back or legs, know that it’s not normal and you’d benefit from a consultation with your spine specialist. For more information, or for help with your pain, give our team a call today at (651) 430-3800.