16 Jan 2023   |  Jennifer

Is A Degenerated Disc Or Pinched Nerve The Reason For My Back Pain?

If you are having symptoms of back pain, the question arises whether it is due to a pinched nerve or degenerative disc disease. Visit the spine specialist of Dallas Back Clinics to know the exact cause of your pain.

The source of back pain caused by a spinal disc problem is either a protruding disc irritating a nerve or the disc itself. As doctors may use a variety of terms to describe the issue, such as a slipped disc, protruding disc, pinched nerve, and/or degenerative disc, differentiating between the two might be confusing.

Back pain relief

Pinched Nerve

It's not the disc that hurts when a spinal disc mechanically compresses, irritates, or inflames a nearby nerve root; instead, it's the nerve pain caused by the disc's incursion. Pain from a pinched nerve root in your lower back radiates into your leg and foot. It can also cause neurological problems, such as numbness, weakness, tingling, and a pins-and-needles sensation.

The medical word for this type of pain is radiculopathy. Sciatica is the common name for radiculopathy that results from irritation or compression of particular nerve roots in the lower back.

Pinched nerves may result from :-

  • Herniated discs :- As we age, spinal discs wear out. A nerve can be pinched when spinal discs deteriorate and push outside of their space. A nearby nerve is pinched by the herniated disc.
  • Spinal stenosis :- Spinal stenosis is narrowing one or more areas within your spine. A tight space can cause the spinal cord or nerves to become irritated, compressed, or pinched, resulting in back pain and sciatica.
  • Bone spurs that are caused by osteoarthritis :- Like other joints of the body, the spine can also develop arthritis. The growth of a small bit of bone can pinch a nearby nerve.

Although rare, it can be caused by other conditions, such as tumors, infection, or spondylolisthesis.

Symptoms of a pinched nerve

The symptoms caused by a pinched nerve depend on the type of pinched nerve. When a nerve is pinched, it typically produces numbness or a pins-and-needles sensation if the nerve conveys sensory information. A pinch in a nerve that contains motor fibers will usually result in weakening or, in severe cases, paresis or paralysis. In either case, a pinched nerve causes pain in the affected area as well as pain that shoots down the nerve like an electric shock.

Types of pinched nerves

Different nerves can be pinched. Nerve compression in the wrist leads to carpal tunnel syndrome. Several different nerve types can become pinched in the neck and lower back. Pinching of the spinal cord itself is called myelopathy. Motor radiculopathy occurs when the nerve root in the front of the spine is pinched.

Degenerated disc pain

It is referred to as discogenic back pain if the intervertebral disc is the cause of your pain. There are several mechanisms by which a spinal disc can degenerate from wear and tear or trauma and cause pain :-

  • Inflammation :- Inflammatory proteins may be released into the disc space when the disc deteriorates. A degenerated disc may also herniate, leaking its inner inflammatory contents. These inflammatory substances may irritate or inflame nearby nerves, causing pain. It also causes pinched nerve pain.
  • Shrinkage :- The disc may become dehydrated due to degeneration, which will cause it to shrink and lose fluid content. The degree of disc shrinking may cause the spinal canal to narrow, which can result in radiculopathy.
  • Motion segment instability :- Also, disc degeneration can make the spinal segment unstable and less effective at restricting motion in the spine.

Sciatica nerve pain relief

The muscles in the region may spasm as the body is trying to counteract the pain, instability, and inflammation. This can result in sharp, shooting pain, and worsening back pain. A degenerated disc may cause localized pain or pain that radiates into your leg (radiculopathy).