Herniated Disc

Herniated Disc

Diagnosed With a Herniated Disc?

Get the facts on what really causes it and how to get relief

What is a herniated disc?

You’ve probably heard people say they have a “slipped” or “ruptured” disc in the back. Sometimes they complain that their back “went out”. What they’re most likely describing is a herniated disc. This condition is a common source of back and leg pain.

CLICK HERE For Very Important Herniated Disc Information

Discs are soft cushions found between the vertebrae that make up the spinal column (your backbone). In the middle of the spinal column is the spinal canal, a hollow space that contains the spinal cord. The nerves that supply the arms, leg, and torso come from the spinal cord. The nerves from the neck supply the arms and hands, and the nerves from the low back supply the butt and legs. The discs between the vertebrae allow the back to move freely and act like shock absorbers.
The disc is made up of two main sections. The outer part (the annulus) is made up of tough cartilage that is comprised of series of rings. The center of the disc is a jelly-like substance called the nucleus pulposus. A disc herniates or ruptures when part of the jelly center pushes through the outer wall of the disc into the spinal canal, and puts pressure on the nerves. A disc bulge is when the jelly substance pushes the outer wall but doesn’t completely go through the wall.

What do you feel?

Low back pain will affect four out of five people during their lifetime. The most common symptom of a herniated disc is “sciatica”. Sciatica is best described as a sharp, often shooting pain that begins in the buttocks and goes down the back of one leg. This is most often caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve that exits the spinal cord. Other symptoms include:

• Weakness in one leg or both legs
• Numbness and tingling in one leg (pins & needles)
• A burning pain centered in the low back
• Loss of bladder or bowel control (seek medical attention immediately)
• Back pain with gradually increasing leg pain.

(If you have weakness in both legs. Seek immediate attention.)


How do you know you have a herniated disc?

Your medical history is key to a proper diagnosis. A physical examination can usually determine which nerve roots are affected (and how seriously). A simple x-ray may show evidence of disc or degenerative spine changes. An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is usually the best option (most expensive) to determine which disc has herniated.

Why do discs herniate?

Discs are primarily composed of water. As we become older (after the age of 30), the water content decreases, so the discs begin to shrink and lose their shape. When the disc becomes smaller the space between the vertebrae decreases and become narrower. Also, as the disc loses water content the disc itself becomes less flexible.

While aging, excess weight, improper lifting and the decrease in water in the discs all contribute to the breaking down of discs, the primary cause of a herniation or bluge is uneven compression and torsion that’s placed on the discs.

This uneven pressure is caused by imbalances in muscles that pull the spine out of it’s normal position and then your body is forced to function in what I call a physical dysfunction. Every human being develops these dysfunctions over time and eventually they cause enough damage to create pain.

The best treatment options

When it comes to treating a herniated disc, there are traditional treatments such as ice/heat, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, cortisone injections, anti-inflammatory medications and even surgery. While these may deliver some relief, it will usually be temporary if at all.

But the major problem with these traditional treatments is that they can’t fix or heal a herniated disc as they do not address the actual cause of the problem. For example, even if you were to have a surgery and get some pain relief, the fact is the dysfunctions that caused the disc to herniated in the first place are still there and if not addressed, they will continue to place uneven pressure and strain on the discs and sooner or later you will likely have another problem with that disc, or others.

Without identifying and addressing the underlying cause of the problem, which is the physical dysfunctions caused by imbalances in muscles, you will likely continue to suffer with this condition and the continuous flare ups for years.

Unfortunately, most doctors, chiropractors and physical therapists don’t spend time or focus on identifying the physical dysfunctions that are responsible for the condition so most people end up jumping from one useless traditional treatment to the next and suffer for months or years unnecessarily.

If you have been diagnosed with a herniated disc, or are wondering if your back pain may be caused by a herniated disc, either way you must identify and address the physical dysfunctions that are causing your pain.

About the Author: For more information on herniated discs and how to treat them effectively, read the latest Back Pain Advisory from The Healthy Back Institute. You can get a free copy of it here: http://www.losethebackpain.com/herniateddisc.html

This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Seek the guidance of a licensed physician if you need medical advice.

Herniated Disc Resources

What is a herniated disc?
Herniated Disc Guide

22 Responses to “Herniated Disc”

  1. Cheryl Campbell says:

    I have lower back pain. When the pain is realy bad I also experiendce sharp nerve pain down my legs all the way to the bottoms of my feet.

    An MRI reveal a large buldge in L5 and a small buldge in L4.

    I’ve had 10 sergeries for other health issues and do not wish to have another surgery.

    What other type of treatment/doctor is advised? Some friends have recommended a Chiroprator. I don’t know why but that word scares me.

    Please advise!

  2. katie says:

    Look into a McKenzie certified physical therapist. Depending on your symptoms and how to respond to their evaluation they should be able to give to simple exercises that can help you control your pain. They can also tell you within about 2 weeks if what they are doing will help you.

  3. Laurie says:

    Please help i have 5 herniated discs in my neck and to in my lower back i am suffering all the time its so hard to hold my head up and sometimes move iam at my wits end i have seen nero surgens and have gotten nowhere

  4. SHINEY says:

    my sister is admitted in the hospital the result shows EARLY SPONDILOTIE Changes are noted in the celvical and lumbar spine. there is a small postiriar disc herniation at L5/S1. Doctors have adviced for surgery please advice what does this mean

  5. Ann says:

    I was told several years ago I had a bulge at C-5. Recently, I have had numbness return to both my thumbs and loosing sensation to feel in my left hand. Those symptoms I did have before the scary thing is now I feel numbness in my chest and sometimes have difficulty breathing. The numbness is in my upper chest right above my breast. I have no support system at home and no insurance I really need help but I’m worried and don’t know where to turn. Please give me some advice .Thanks

  6. Paul says:

    After Mri shows L-3/L4 disc’s are herniated with a pinched nerve at or near L-4, also stenosis in L-5.
    What proceedure would be used and why?

  7. Ok, I have a work injury L2,L3,L4, L5 is pinched

    What excersize can I do???? I have cut out all the fat and the sugar… Now I need to trim the waist I don’t have a clue as to what I can do. My Drs just want to fuse my back together…
    I think NOT!!!!! I live with pain for the past three yrs and I just want to lose some weight. I have gained 75 lbs since I got hurt. I am going to try Spinal Decompression as soon as I can afford it.. But until then what excersize can I do….

  8. John, Spinal fusion is a door that you walk through that you can never back through. For that reason it is risky at best. If a patient is fused in a painful position it will stay painful that way. Further, the added stress placed on the adjacent discs will likely end up causing them to herniate too. As far a stretches go you should be careful as they could benefit or harm. It would be best to seek the advice of a Physical Therapist or Chiropractor who is well versed in how to stretch and not exacerbate the underlying disc condition. Basically you want to make sure the hamstrings, gluts and psoas muscles are limber which can take tremendous stress off the low back. Good luck!

  9. stan hilts says:

    I have a large herniated dics at L2 an another they didnt tell me where, also 2 bulging disc and a twisted verabra. I have no pain in my legs but lots of numbnessand tingling in my leg and foot.My doctor tells me this is not causing my problem. HELP

  10. sue says:

    has anyone ever had a bilateral tfi for disc herniation. L4/5

  11. Bill F. says:

    I had surgery on my C-4&5 it was fused in Oct08
    I have had nothing but problems since
    I can work or sleep been work on
    SS disablty
    Can anyone help??

  12. Brian J says:

    i have major problems with L1,L2,L4,L5 & S1
    if you have access to a pool, can i sugest you spend half an hour once or twice a week just walking around in the water (waist high). it strengthens the mussels in the back and i found it does help. good luck all :o )

  13. magali says:

    i have a herniatic disc they just gave me medicine for pain i have only one option go to mexico this doctor do not do surgery only medicine and theraphy its 100% no side effects and they say you will notice the difrence in the same moment this doctor its been in a tv show a few times thats how i now they do this tretment in mexico that my only chance to back working dr. eloy ovando sander phone 011525553396430 i have the webside http://www.herniasdedisco.com.mx he has two clinics in mexico city/guadalajara im going this summer i dont loss nothing to try this and it works good luck people.

  14. JennaMarie says:

    I really need some help with this one!!!! my boyfriend had a cyst on his tailbone a while ago that they popped and sowed him back up. recently he has been having a lot of hip pain, on his left side, accompanied by pain in the left leg, trouble walking or even moving his hip.He also has trouble peeing, and he said it kind of tingle when he urinates. the doctors up here told him it was Sciatica and gave him Percaset, then hydrocodone, and anti-inflammatorys but nothing is helping his pain! and we do not have insurance now so going to get an MRI is out of the question, anyone have any advice as to what it may be

  15. jwill621 says:

    I have a herniated disk at the L4-5 level i also have buldging discs above and below I have had two microdiskectomies now I need a fusion but once u have that their is no return, but now I have been offerd the opportunity of lumbar disk replacement they offer it in clevland clinic they will remove the injured disk and replace it with two plates on the vertibrae and a plastic disk between it allows you to maintain motion in the disk anyone with disc problems in both the cervical and lumbar area should research it

  16. cartergirl says:

    i recently slipped in a pothole at work on feb 17 and fractured my ankle also messed up my back. i had a MRI done which showed up a disc buldge and tear in the L5 and a crack in the L4 my question in how long until I’m not in pain anymore and no more numbness in my legs and feet? i am seeing a chiropractor but it don’t seem to be getting any better does anyone have any advise on what else i can do? please help

  17. Sandra Dee says:

    I have had 2 diskectomies, both L4-5, recently diagnosed with several cervical herniated disks, c3 through c7, my problem is I have a burning sensation in right flank area, my neurosurgeon does not know what is causing the internal burning feeling in right side area. Any suggestions

  18. LisaK says:

    I recently had my Gall Bladder removed and after surgery continued to have back pain. My MRI shows herniation in T-10 & T-11. Have there been any links between gall bladder surgery & disc problems? I would also like the pros & cons of steroid injections.

  19. Jo says:

    In August, I had a cervical spine fusion to repair discs 4,5 and six. After three and a half months, I went back to work at a factory where I constantly lift heavy materials. To make a long story short, 3 and 7 of my discs are herinated. The neurosurgeon says that it doesn’t have anything to do with the original surgery or original injury. I don’t believe that. I just wondered if anyone else had more discs to herinate after surgery?

  20. everyone says:

    decompression it worked for my 23 year old son

  21. Jackie says:

    I have back pain for years. I have pain down my back leg, numbness in my foot and I have had times when my legs become weak and I can not stand up. I went to spine doc and was told I had sciatica, L4 L5 bulging, scoliosis. She had me do pt for 3 weeks, it made it worse. what should I do?

  22. Diane says:

    I have suffered with low back pain for years. I had an MRI and it stated that I have annular tears at the L4-5 and L5-S1 and scattered hemangiomas throughout the lumber spine. I also have in the L4-5 circumferential disc bulge with left paracentral disc at the L4 level. THis is causing left lateral recess narrowing and posterior medial displacement of the left nerve root. Along with that I have a mild disc bulge at the L3-L4, and another mild disc bulge at the L5-S1..I had a nerve root block that has been unsuccessful.. what should I do next? Please give me some advice.. Thank you..

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