When a spinal disc herniates, the jelly that squeezes out can apply pressure to a nerve. Spinal nerves carry pain and other sensations as well as motor function. Direct pressure on the aspect of the nerve that carries motor ability will cause muscle weakness. Herniated discs tend to create weakness in the extremities, and at times the muscle weakness is profound enough to cause visible muscle atrophy. It is not uncommon, however, for a patient to be completely unaware of the muscle weakness. During an examination, a physician is able to isolate individual muscle actions to detect the problem early. It is also possible to have muscle weakness without any other symptom such as pain, numbness, or tingling. Weakness from a herniated disc may be a very serious complication and should always be evaluated by a healthcare professional.
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