Spinal Conditions

Herniated Disc

Herniated Disc

Herniated Disc symptoms: sharp, burning or stabbing pain in back, may also run down leg; onset is often sudden.

Condition and Causes

Nestled amidst the vertebrae of the spine reside discs serving as cushions. These discs consist of a central core, known as the nucleus pulposus, and an encircling outer layer called the annulus fibrosis. Should the annulus undergo degeneration or tearing, the nucleus may breach it, leading to bulging and protrusion of the disc. Such bulging can exert pressure on nerves, resulting in discomfort. When the nucleus breaches the annulus entirely, it’s termed a herniated disc. The tear in the annulus caused by this breach induces back pain, which can radiate elsewhere if the protruding disc compresses a spinal nerve.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

A primary symptom of a herniated disc is intense, acute pain often characterized as “deep,” intensifying as it travels down the affected leg. Pain may emerge suddenly or follow a sensation akin to snapping or tearing in the spine, likely attributable to annulus fibrosis tearing.

Patients with herniated discs often exhibit restricted mobility and may lean to one side while bending. Walking may provoke pain, leading patients to adjust their gait by straightening the affected leg to alleviate pressure.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a common diagnostic tool for identifying herniated discs, while CT scans offer clearer images of nerve compression resulting from disc herniation.


Rest, medication, and physical therapy typically yield positive outcomes in herniated disc treatment. Medications such as anti-inflammatories, analgesics, and muscle relaxants may be prescribed to alleviate pressure and pain.

Although rarely necessary, surgery may be recommended if conservative treatments fail to produce desired results over time.

Risks and Benefits

Neglecting preventive measures for spinal conditions can exacerbate the situation. Surgical intervention in severe cases can alleviate extremity pain. Risks associated with surgery, such as infection, blood loss, and nerve or spinal damage, should be weighed against potential benefits. This information aims to provide an overview of surgical options and treatments and should not substitute personalized medical advice. Always consult a physician regarding the specific risks and benefits of your treatment.

All information provided on this website is for information purposes only. Please see a healthcare professional for medical advice. If you are seeking this information in an emergency situation, please call 911 and seek emergency help.