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Disc Herniations

A herniated disc occurs when the water and protein based substance that is held within the discs of the spine begins to protrude into the spinal canal or onto one of the spinal nerves. The fibrous tissue that surrounds the discs (annulus) tears and allows the fluid begins to leak.

Herniated discs most often occur in the cervical (neck) and lumbar (low back) spine. The intervertebral discs act as the cushions of the spine and allow the spine to remain flexible and absorb the weight of daily activities. Repetitive strain and small traumas can weaken these discs over time causing them to rupture. In other instances, disc herniations occur as a result of sudden trauma or overexertion.

When a spinal disc becomes herniated a protrusion may form and it can begin to irritate or compress the nerve roots that exit each level of the spine. Depending on the location of the herniation a variety of symptoms can occur. Herniated discs are almost always accompanied by persistent pain in the lower back or neck.

Those with herniated discs in the lumbar or cervical spine may experience signs and symptoms including:

  • Persistent back pain
  • Persistent neck pain
  • Pain that radiates into the arms (Cervical Radiculopathy)
  • Pain that radiates into the legs (Lumbar Radiculopathy)
  • Sciatica