A disc that herniates and compresses or pinches a nerve in your spine can cause numbness, weakness, tingling, shooting pain, bowel and/or bladder problems—symptoms that can take a huge toll on your quality of life.
If conservative treatments, stretching, and therapy provide little relief, or if the pain interferes with your daily life, it might be time to see a doctor. Nerve compression, when treated early, has a high likelihood of complete recovery. If your inclination is to tough it out, you should remember that if you wait too long to address your nerve-related pain, you risk having long-term or permanent nerve damage.
A 2011 study suggested that waiting too long to seek medical treatment for a herniated disc may end up doing more harm than good. The study compared two groups of patients who had lumbar herniated discs. Patients who waited longer than six months to report their herniated disc symptoms to a doctor did not respond as well to treatment as those who waited less than six months to seek medical advice.
The lesson here is not to wait too long to visit your doctor if your herniated disc pain is severe. Seeing a doctor sooner rather than later may improve the success of your treatment, and waiting too long may result in long-term nerve damage that is unlikely to respond to treatment at all.