Herniated disc symptoms and how to relieve them

Herniated disc symptoms can be debilitating to the point that every part of your life is disrupted, from making breakfast to getting a good night’s sleep. The good news is that this condition is often treatable without surgery. In fact, many treatments can be performed in the comfort of your own home or involve lifestyle changes that can also improve your overall health.

One often overlooked part of the treatment process is patient education. By learning more about the specific symptoms of a herniated disc, and the full range of treatment options, you can become a more engaged, confident patient.

Specific symptoms

The spinal discs act as shock absorbers and lie between the vertebrae, which are the bones that support the spine and protect the spinal cord. Age and other factors like weight and injury can cause these discs to weaken over time. If a disc’s tough exterior develops a tear and ruptures, the softer nucleus material can be pushed out. If this jellylike material comes into contact with a nerve root or the spinal cord, patients may experience the following herniated disc symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Muscle weakness

The exact location of a patient’s discomfort will vary depending on the position of the affected disc and the nerve it is compressing. For example, a herniated disc in the cervical (upper) spine can cause symptoms in the neck, shoulders and arms while the lumbar (lower) region of the spine affects the lower body.


The symptoms of a herniated disc can often be relieved through conservative means, including physical therapy, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and hot/cold compression therapy. You should always speak with your doctor before beginning any new type of medication or exercise program. If several weeks or months of conservative treatment fail to provide relief, a physician or spine specialist may recommend surgery. Patients should examine all of their options before consenting to any operation and learn all the risks and complications each operation may present.

Laser Spine Institute

Laser Spine Institute has helped more than 60,000 patients find relief from neck and back pain with minimally invasive spine surgery that is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine procedures.^

Contact us to learn more about the many benefits of our outpatient procedures — we are also happy to offer a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate.

Browse Related Resources