A herniated disc is a spine condition that occurs when the gel-like center of a disc ruptures through a weak area in the tough outer wall, similar to the filling being squeezed out of a jelly doughnut.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of a herniated disc vary greatly depending on the location of the herniation and your own response to pain. If you have a herniated lumbar disc, you may feel pain that radiates from your low back area, down one or both legs, and sometimes into your feet (called sciatica). If you have a herniated disc in your neck, symptoms can include radiating pain down the arms, numbness, tingling or muscle weakness.
What causes herniated discs?
Discs can bulge or herniate because of injury and improper lifting or can occur spontaneously. Aging plays an important role. As you get older, your discs dry out and become harder. The tough fibrous outer wall of the disc may weaken, and it may no longer be able to contain the gel-like nucleus in the center. This material may bulge or rupture through a tear in the disc wall, causing pain when it touches a nerve. Genetics, smoking, and a number of occupational and recreational activities may lead to early disc degeneration.
In certain instances disc problems may not resolve with conservative treatment and may require more invasive treatments such as spinal injections or surgery.