Herniated Disc

A common source of back pain

What is a herniated disc?

A herniated disc occurs when one of the rubbery discs in between the vertebrae of our backs ruptures and pokes out from its normal place. The disc presses against nerves running along the spinal cord, causing pain and discomfort.
Spine Health - Herniated Disc

How do herniated discs occur?

This condition forms over time and stress on the back. Lifting heavy objects can contribute to disc herniation. Spinal complications can be passed down through genetics and heighten the risk of getting a herniated disc.

Who can get a herniated disc?

Men and women can both experience herniated discs, but it is more common in men. People around 30-50 years old get them the most.

What systems do herniated discs affect?

The nerves surrounding the spinal column and spinal cord are the most affected. Certain areas of the body are affected depending on where on the spine the herniated disc occurred. A herniated disc in the lower back, or lumbar spine can cause numbness and tingling in the legs and feet while disc herniation in the neck area, or cervical spine causes numbness and tingling in the arms and hands.

Signs and Symptoms

Aching or sharp pain in the back or neck . Herniated discs in the lumbar spine or back cause numbness in the a tingling sensation in the legs and feet, while disc herniation in the cervical spine or neck cause it in the arms and hands.


Doctors can diagnose herniated discs by feeling on a patients back for soft spots, but it's not the most reliable practice. There are multiple kinds of scans that can herniated disc, or damaged tissue around it. X-Rays cannot show a herniated disc, but they can rule out any other complications that would cause back pain such as a tumor or infection. A CT or Computerized Tomography scan takes x-rays from multiple angles, which gives a better image of the spine and what is going on around it. MRI's use radio waves and magnets to find where the herniated disc is and which nerves it is affecting. A Myelogram is when dye is injected into the spine and x-rayed. It shows the affected vertebrae and nerves as well.


The simplest treatment is bed rest and refraining from heavy lifting. A TENS machine, which send low levels of electricity into the muscles, can help a persons muscles relax. Heat and ice are common methods with dealing with any type of pain


My mom had a herniated disc in her cervical spine. It got really bad so she had to undergo surgery and have one of her vertebrae replaced by a cadaver bone. Her back pain has receded but she can't go back to her job as a paramedic for a while.

Life Expectancy

The only life risk from a herniated disc is blood loss or infection from surgery.

Works Cited

Mayo Clinic Staff. "Herniated Disk." - Mayo Clinic. N.p., 28 Jan. 2014. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.

Mayo Clinic Staff. "Herniated Disk." Symptoms. Mayo Clinic, n.d. Web. 01 Feb. 2016.

Mayo Clinic Staff. "Herniated Disk." Causes. Mayo Clinic, n.d. Web. 01 Feb. 2016.

Mayo Clinic Staff. "Herniated Disk." Risk Factors. Mayo Clinic, n.d. Web. 01 Feb. 2016.

"Spine Health - Herniated Disc." YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 01 Feb. 2016.