What are Herniated Discs?

Herniated Discs is referred to as:

  • Herniated Nucleus Pulposus (HNP)
  • Prolapsed Disc
  • Ruptured Disc

What is a Herniated Disc?

A herniated disc, also referred to as a herniated nucleus pulposus (HNP), prolapsed disc, bulging, ruptured, or slipped disc – is a condition that occurs when an intervertebral disc extrudes into the spinal canal. As a disc degenerates over time as part of the natural aging process, the inner disc material can extrude into the spinal canal.  The disc tough exterior is called the annulus fibrosus. The annulus fibrosus may tear open (or herniate) and the soft inner core, called the nucleus pulposus may bulge into the spinal canal. A lumbar herniated disc can cause pain to radiate all the way down the legs and into the feet. In the area of the cervical (upper) spine, the pain can radiate from the neck to the shoulders, down the arms and into the fingers.

Approximately 90 percent of disc herniation's occur in the lower back at the L4-L5 level (lumbar segments 4 and 5) or L5-S1 level (lumbar segment 5 and sacral segment 1). When a herniated disc occurs in these areas, it can place pressure on the L5 nerve root or S1 nerve root, respectively, resulting in pain and other symptoms. Herniated discs are most often diagnosed in the lumbar region of the spine, but cervical herniated discs (in the neck) are not unheard of and occur in about 10 percent of patients.

Oftentimes, individuals suffering from back pain due to a herniated disc opt for open back surgery, which comes with high risks, hospital stays, and a lengthy recuperation time.

If you think you might be suffering from the symptoms of a herniated disc, please check out our herniated disc symptoms page. Here you can review detailed information provided by spine experts.

Prevention of disc herniation involves following safe practices at home and in the workplace can help you avoid injuries of all kinds, including the most common injuries – those involving your back. This is why it's important to learn which activities you should avoid and which precautions you should take to ensure your back and neck remain healthy and strong. Visit our page devoted to herniated disc causes to further understand how to avoid back injury.

If conservative care is failing and you are missing the normal, active lifestyle because of a herniated disc, check out our page dedicated to herniated disc treatment. There, you can learn more about our minimally invasive procedures that can help you rediscover your life without back and neck pain


Herniated Neck Disc

A herniated disc in the neck is a common cause of neck and back pain, as well as discomfort in the shoulders, arms, and hands. A herniated disc occurs when one of the soft intervertebral discs in the neck break open and extrude material into the spinal canal. This disc material can apply pressure on nerve roots and the spinal cord in the upper spine, and the resulting interference with nerve tissue can cause pain, numbness, a tingling feeling, and muscle weakness.

A herniated neck disc (also known as a cervical herniated disc), is not as common as a herniated lumbar disc (in the lower back), but neck discs are still prone to injury and conditions like arthritis and degenerative disc disease. The pain experienced from a herniated neck disc stems from the location of the damaged disc and the specific nerve roots that are being compressed by disc material.

Eight pairs of nerve roots are located in your cervical spine and they are numbered C1-C8, with each nerve root serving a different area of the upper body. This being the case, a herniated disc in the neck can affect your •Head and neck (C1-C2), Diaphragm (C3), Shoulders, arms, and hands (C4, C7-C8), Wrists (C5- C6).

Fortunately, advances in modern medicine have made managing a herniated neck disc much more realistic. Depending on the severity of the herniation and the location of the disc, a number of herniated disc treatment options exist. At first, your doctor may suggest a conservative approach, recommending cold and hot therapy, prescription or over-the-counter medication, exercise, physical therapy, or even lifestyle changes.

If pain from the herniated neck disc persists, your doctor may present the option of surgery to help alleviate your suffering. Should this be the case, we offer a variety of minimally invasive, outpatient procedures to address neck and back problems, including herniated discs in the neck. Contact us to learn more about the alternatives to living with a painful herniated neck disc.


Herniated Back Disc

A herniated back disc or herniated disc is a common condition in the spine that can cause pain in the back and neck as well as throughout the arms and legs. Intervertebral discs – which are cushions of joint cartilage located between the vertebrae in the spine – are prone to injury and everyday wear-and-tear. It’s common for one or more discs to become weak and torn, allowing inner disc material to leak out and extrude into the spinal canal. When this happens, the herniated back disc can apply pressure on the adjoining sensory nerve root or the spinal cord, which may cause pain or discomfort both at the affected site and throughout other parts of the body.

Herniated back discs most often occur in the lumbar (lower) region of the spine (a region known as L1-L5) where the back has the most mobility and also endures the most stress. Here, a slipped disc can cause pain radiating from the lower back all the way down to the feet. This intense pain in the lower body is often referred to as sciatica.

Although not as frequent as a lumbar herniated disc, a cervical herniated disc (in the neck) is also a common source of pain. A herniated neck disc can cause intense neck pain as well as tingling, numbness, and weakness down to the fingertips.

If you suspect you have a herniated disc, it is recommended you visit your doctor for a thorough diagnosis. Once the correct diagnosis is made, often conservative treatment can provide relief for herniated back discs. These treatments may include: Hot and cold modalities, Over-the-counter or prescription medication, Stretching, conditioning, and strengthening, Improved posture and diet, Physical therapy


Diagnosis of Herniated disc

Herniated disc Diagnosis

Your physician may diagnose a herniated disc by MRI or disco-gram. The annular ligament tear may be visible as a high intensity zone on the MRI and dye may leak through a annular tear associated with a disc herniation on the disco-gram. 


Risk Factors of Herniated disc

Herniated disc Risk Factors

Many wonder if herniated discs are inherited or if a loved one may develop a herniated disc. The primary risks factors known are aging and body weight. As a person ages past thirty years the disc is prone to degeneration as the disc dehydrates and loses elasticity.

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