To locate a ruptured disk, the initial symptom is low back pain, explains the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. A person suffering from this problem may have leg or foot pain, numbness or a tingling sensation in the leg or foot, and weakness in the leg or foot. Although extremely rare, some people may also experience loss of bowel or bladder control.
In order to determine a ruptured disk, doctors examine the spine, explains the AAOS. They do neurological examination to detect weakness or sensory loss; a straight leg raise test, which is accurate in patients under age of 35; and imaging tests such as magnetic resonance imaging scan.
In most cases, a ruptured disk is related to the natural aging of the spine, notes the AAOS. Disks in children and young adults have high water content, but begin to dry out and weaken, causing the disks to shrink. As a result, the spaces between the vertebrae get narrower, a process known as disk degeneration. Although aging is one of the risk factors, there are also others factors that are known to contribute to a ruptured disk, such as gender, improper lifting, weight, repetitive activities that strain the spine, frequent driving, sedentary lifestyle and smoking.