What is a Herniated Disc

Back Surgery Information

What is a herniated disc?

A herniated disc occurs when the cushion between the vertebra, typically known as cartilage, is moved outside its normal position causing pressure on the spinal nerves. These discs and cartilage is what allows the spine to bend and move. When the cartilage is herniated, it causes back pain, leg pain, or weakens the muscles in the lower extremities. As the body ages, the spinal discs become more rigid and therefore more vulnerable to injury.

What is a herniated disc? There are many terms to describe this ailment. Among them are herniated, prolapsed, and ruptured; some just refer it as a slipped disc.

Over time or due to an injury, the discs in the back become less flexible and there is a greater chance of rupturing. When this takes place, there is a gel substance inside the protective covering of a disc that begins to leak out. When this happens there is usually a great amount of pain and disability when it comes in contact with the nerves that are located around the spine.

A herniated disc can occur at any time. A sudden turn, picking up an infant or package in the wrong way, falling, or any number of other reasons can have you asking yourself - what is a herniated disc?

When you do ask the question - what is a herniated disc? - the laymen’s answer might be a slipped disc. Your doctor may call it a ruptured disc. However, regardless of what you call it, this condition creates a great irritation of the nerves and blocks signals to the brain. Physical examination can be accomplished with tests. Reflexes and muscle strength are an important issue and a diagnosis can often be made by testing these two factors.

If the pain is severe enough, the doctor will often call for an MRI. When used in conjunction with other tests he can then make a knowledgeable diagnosis of where the pain is coming from.

If you are a senior it is more predictable that you will have spinal abnormalities due to the degeneration of the spine and discs. These problems can be diagnosed in people as young as 40, although this is rare unless an injury has occurred.

A herniated disc can be a problem in any part of your spine, but is most common in the lumbar section. This is of course the part of your body which has the most weight and pressure constantly placed upon it.

Conclusively, when one asks - what is a herniated disc - a brief description would be this: when the gel substance in the center of the disc which provides the cusion leaks out into the surrounding area, the substance comes in contact with nerve endings. When this happens the nerves become irritated and inflammed and can cause pain and numbness.

This article concerning the question - what is a herniated disc? - has been more or less a general discription. If you would like more details on the subject, our website has a large number of articles which provide a wide range of information concerning the back and back problems.