Herniated Discs

The vertebrae are cushioned by intervertebral discs which act as shock absorbers for the spine. The normal intervertebral disc is composed of a nucleus pulposus, at the center, surrounded by a fibrous ring known as annulus fibrosus. The nucleus pulposus is a soft-jelly like substance that is well hydrated and acts like a shock absorber. Herniated discs is a condition in which the outer fibrous annulus of the intervertebral disc is damaged, causing the soft gelatinous material to protrude from the center through the ruptured annulus. This results in nerve root and/or spinal canal compression. Herniated disc is also known as a bulging disc, slipped disc, or ruptured disc.

Symptoms of Herniated Discs

The most common signs of a herniated disk are:

  • Arm or leg pain. If the herniated disk is in your lower back, the most severe pain will likely be in your thigh, calf, buttocks, and even part of the foot. If the herniated disk is in your neck, the pain will likely be the most intense in the arm and shoulder area. The pain can appear when you cough, sneeze, or move your spine.
  • Numbness or tingling. Often, individuals feel numbness or tingling in the body part surrounding the affected nerves.
  • Weakness. When you have a herniated disc, muscles surrounding the affected nerves tend to weaken. This can reduce your ability to hold and lift objects.

When Should You See a Doctor?

Seek medical help if your neck or back pain travels down your arm or leg, or if you experience numbness, tingling, or weakness.