Herniated Disc In Spine

Back Surgery Information

Herniated Disc In Spine

A herniated disc in spine is one of the most common causes of back pain. Herniated disc, prolapsed disc, slipped disc and bulging disc are just some of the terms used to refer to the medical condition that results from injury or trauma to the spinal discs or degeneration of the spinal discs. Spinal discs are found between the spinal vertebrae and are therefore sometimes referred to as intervertebral discs. The intervertebral discs are consist of an outer ring, the annulus fibrosus, which is made up of cartilage and an inner soft core, the nucleus fibrosus, which is made up of a gel like substance.

For a herniated disc in spine to occur, the inner gel like substance bulges out of the nuclues fibrosus, perhaps because the cartilage has been damage due to injury or degeneration or other cause. The term ‘slipped disc’ is therefore not appropriate as the intervertebral discs do not slip out of place (as they are fixed) rather that the inner portion of the disc slips out.

A herniated disc in spine will sometimes cause no symptoms such as pain, numbness or tingling. This is probably because the protruding portion of the disc is not putting any pressure on the spinal nerves. These types of small herniations may resolve by themselves without any intervention. Cervical spine disc herniations are one of the types of herniations that may not cause any symptoms, though at times they do. An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is the most reliable diagnostic test for identifying disc herniations with no symptoms.

When the herniated disc in spine is placing pressure on the spinal nerves, it will result in mild to very severe pain. Symptoms experienced will include pain, tingling, numbness, paralysis and muscle weakness. The severity of the pain and the other symptoms experienced will depend on the location and severity of the herniation. A herniated disc in spine can occur anywhere along the spinal column. However, the majority of herniations occur in the lumbar region particularly on the L4-L5 and the L5-S1 vertebrae.

The next most common location for disc herniation is in the cervical region. Disc herniations rarely occur in the thoracic region as the intervertebral discs in this area are very strong and stable.

The cause of a herniated disc in spine will vary. Herniations are caused by poor lifting technique, injury to the spine from activities such as sports and gymnastics, fracture in the spine and so on. A sedentary lifestyle, excess weight, family history is some of the risk factors for disc herniation. Medical conditions such as spinal stenosis and spondylolithesis may also predispose an individual to getting a herniated disc in spine.

The first treatment option for disc herniation will be conservative treatment like physical therapy and bed rest. Herniated disc back surgery as a treatment option is usually considered as a last resort.