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Back or Neck Strain vs. Herniated Disc? - How to tell the differenceback surgeries may be neededif your herniated disc is causing pain following an injured spine

A back strain is a common occurrence and can cause excruciating back pain. In fact, strains in the muscles of the back are often mistaken for worse conditions and have even led some to the emergency room. Herniated discs or other structural conditions in the spine as a result of trauma or injury are also common and in many cases require surgical intervention such as back surgery. How can you tell if the pain in your lower back or the pain in your neck is from a strain that will heal over time or if it is a sign of something that needs medical attention or, in some instances, back surgery?

Muscle strains occur when a muscle is overstretched or torn resulting in damage to the muscle fibers or the tendons. Bruising may also be present along with mild to severe pain.

  • Key Symptoms of Strain:
    • Bruising, swelling, redness
    • Pain at Rest
    • Weakness or inability to use muscles/tendons
    • Pain usually subsides within 2 weeks

Herniated Discs and other discogenic conditions can result from an injury when  the jelly-like nucleus of the intervertebral disc protrudes from a weak point in the outer annulus. This protrusion often impinges on the surrounding nerve root and causes pain in the affected area along with other symptoms. An injury can also cause a disc that may already be damaged to further herniate, worsening the condition and causing pain.

  • Key Symptoms of Discogenic Pain from Trauma:
    • Pain when straightening spine
    • Numbness or tingling of the limbs/extremities
    • Weakness of the extremities
    • Pain radiates into the limbs
    • Nerve impairment such as bladder or bowel problems following injury
    • Pain does not subside

Treatment for sprains and strains is best treated with ice and heat along with NSAID anti-inflammatory medication. When the problem is worse and there is an injury to the structural spine, such as a herniated disc, the best treatment is a procedure that repairs the disc and retains the integrity of the disc and structure of the spine, such as minimally invasive Deuk Laser Disc Repair® laser spine surgery performed at Deuk Spine Institute. Recovery from this laser back surgery is fast, allowing return to normal activity within 1-3 days for most patients.

If you’ve been presented with a back surgery option and are considering a choice of treatment, be sure to download our ‘Questions to Ask Your Spine Surgeon’ informational sheet so that you are sure that you are making the right decision. Click here to download the form.

For those who have recently suffered an injury in the back or the neck, and are concerned of an injury to your spine such as a herniated disc or worse, call 1-800-Fix-My-Back today to schedule an appointment with one of our physicians to evaluate your condition and determine the severity of the trauma or fill out the form below and a representative will contact you regarding your condition and treatment at our facility.


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