What is a herniated disc?

A herniated disc occurs when the inner material of a spinal disc pushes through the normally tough outer layer and extends into the spinal canal. This layer can become weakened with age and injury, making it more prone to developing the bulges and tears that can lead to herniation. While not always painful by itself, a herniated disc can put pressure on a spinal nerve, leading to painful symptoms.

If you have been diagnosed with a herniated disc that has been identified as the source of painful symptoms that are affecting your job, relationships and leisure time, learning more about this condition is an important first step of treatment. Becoming better informed about the causes and treatment options for this condition can offer you a better chance of returning to a healthy, active lifestyle.

Causes and symptoms of a herniated disc

There can be many causes and contributors to a herniated disc, including:
  • The natural aging process
  • Traumatic injury, like a car accident
  • Repetitive motion injuries from sports or manual labor
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Smoking

Symptoms of a herniated disc can vary by location. For example, a herniated disc in the lumbar (lower) region of the spine can cause pain to radiate all the way down the legs and into the foot. While cervical herniated discs can cause pain to radiate from the neck, down the arm and into the fingers. Specific symptoms for any location of the spine include:

  • Shooting pain
  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of motor skills

If you are showing signs of, or suspect that your back pain is related to, a herniated disc, take a look at our symptoms page to learn more your condition and how minimally invasive spine surgery may be an option for you.

Prevention and treatment options

Following safe practices at home and the workplace can help you avoid injuries of all kinds. The most common workplace injuries occur in the back, making it important to learn which activities you should avoid and which precautions you should take to ensure your back remains healthy. Our page devoted to herniated disc causes will help you learn how to avoid back injury.

Being diagnosed with herniated disc does not always mean your quality of life needs to suffer. To learn more about your options, explore our herniated disc treatment page. A herniated disc is typically first treated with conservative treatment options and many patients find relief without the need for surgery. To learn more, visit our FAQ page where we answer some of the most frequently asked questions received from previous visitors.

If you are recommended for surgery after exhausting conservative methods, reach out to Laser Spine Institute to learn more about minimally invasive spine surgery. By using a less than 1-inch incisionouscle-sparing techniques, our procedures offer a shorter recovery time^ with less risk of complication compared to traditional open spine surgery.

Contact us a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you may be a candidate for one of our minimally invasive procedures.

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