Disk Herniation
Disk Herniation

What is a herniated disk?

Disks are small circular cushions between the vertebrae. Normally, disks act like shock absorbers to cushion your vertebrae from each other as you move. A herniated disk is a disk that has bulged out from its proper place. It may press on nearby nerves which can cause severe pain.

How does it occur?

When a disk is damaged, the softer center of the disk pushes out through a weak point in the outer layer. A disk can be damaged by:

A fall or accident

Repeated strain on the back

A sudden strenuous activity such as lifting a heavy weight or twisting violently

Postural strain

A herniated disk can also happen without a known cause but likely due to repeated activity using poor body mechanics or poor posture

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of a disk herniation can begin suddenly or gradually.

You may have aching, tingling, numbness, burning or a sharp pain in the arms or legs.

You may have centralized neck or back pain

Weakness in the arms or legs may be present

Changes in bowel or bladder habits

How is it diagnosed?

Your health care provider will review your symptoms

An evaluation of the spine will be performed testing movement, reflexes, strength, nerve irritability, and sensation

The doctor may order x-rays, MRI, EMG (nerve conduction test), or myelography

How is it treated?

In most cases, people do not need surgery.

Treatment may include:

Physical therapy

Anti-inflammatory medication

Pain relievers or muscle relaxers


Activity modification

In severe cases surgery may be required

Learn about your problem

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