There may be a connection between your period and the pain of a herniated or “bulging” disc.
But it’s probably not the connection you’re thinking of.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a herniated disc (aka “pinched nerve”), then you know that this means that the spongy disc between your vertebral bones is bulging out and pressing upon nearby nerves.
The resulting pain may be in that area or radiated downward. There may also be tingling, numbness and/or weakness.
So where does menstruation come in?
“Menstruation is not going to affect a herniated disc,” says John D. Lipani, MD, FACS, neurosurgeon-in-chief for and founding director of Princeton Neurological Surgery in NJ.
“However, it may affect how the patient feels from a herniated disc,” continues Dr. Lipani.
“For example, patients who are menstruating may have an exaggerated response to a disc herniation (e.g., increased pain, numbness, tingling and/or weakness).
“If the patient experiences sciatica or nerve pain that only occurs with menstruation or during a particular time of the month, then that patient should consider ectopic endometriosis which is a rare condition that can result in monthly or cyclical nerve pain.
“This condition is frequently missed by healthcare professionals.”
What is ectopic endometriosis?
The tissue that lines the uterus may grow beyond this area, causing pain – including nerve pain, depending on where the abnormally located growth is.
If you’ve been noticing heightened symptoms that seem related to your herniated disc or sciatica that occur around the time of your menstrual cycle – you need to discuss this with your gynecologist as well as the physician who diagnosed the spine issue.
MRI can show endometriosis, which, as Dr. Lipani pointed out, is often under-diagnosed.