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Herniated Disc (Bulging Disc)

Leg / Arm, Lower Back, Neck, Upper Back

Sometimes referred to as slipped, ruptured or bulging disc, a herniated disc occurs when the jelly-like center, or nucleus, of your vertebrae pushes against the outer ring of the vertebrae causing back pain, numbness, or weakness in one or both legs. In some cases, if the disc is worn or injured, the nucleus may burst through the outer ring altogether.

A herniated disc can occur in anyone at any age, but is most often caused by the natural aging of the spine or an injury to the spine. Improperly lifting heavy objects or straining your back can make your spine vulnerable to injuries and result in a herniated disc. Other causes include the vibration of a vehicle during frequent driving or staying seated for long periods of time, which both put a strain on your back and spine. Being overweight or too sedentary can also put added stress on the discs in your back. Getting regular exercise is important in preventing many medical conditions including a herniated disc. It is also important to refrain from smoking, as it reduces the oxygen supply to the discs causing more rapid degeneration.

Diagnosis is made upon examination of the back while imaging tests can be used to confirm diagnosis.

See also: Laser Therapy Treatment

Related Conditions

Lumbar Herniated Disc Learn more about possible treatment options for Lumbar Herniated Disc.

Symptoms of a herniated disc in the lumbar spine (or lower back) can range from low back pain as an early symptom followed by leg pain, numbness, or weakness. The symptoms in the legs are typically found below the knee and in the foot and ankle. Most patients describe the pain as moving from the back or buttock down the leg into the foot. The pain from disc herniations will improve within six weeks in most patients with conservative treatments (Anti-inflammatories, physical therapy, epidural steroid injections).

Thoracic Herniated Disc Learn more about possible treatment options for Thoracic Herniated Disc.

Symptoms of a thoracic herniated disc include pain in the upper back. Depending on the size and location of the herniated disc, a patient may experience abdominal pain or pain radiating to the chest wall. Thoracic herniated discs are less common than lumbar herniated discs (occurring in the lower back) because there is generally less pressure and movement in this area of the spine. Herniated discs in this area of the spine can be caused by an injury or from the general “wear and tear” of the spine, also referred to as disc degeneration.

Cervical Herniated Disc Learn more about possible treatment options for Cervical Herniated Disc.

A cervical herniated disc (occurring in the neck area of the spine) can cause symptoms such as numbness, tingling or pain in the back or arms. It can also cause muscle weakness and balance/coordination issues if the spinal cord is affected. Please see other terms (myelopathy, radiculopathy)

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