What is a

Herniated Disc?

When the soft inner gel inside the disc leaks back into the spinal canal, it as known as a herniated disc. The herniated disc material creates pressure on the nerve, resulting in pain which radiates down the nerve pathway.

A lumbar herniated disc can lead to sciatica or leg pain, whereas a cervical herniated disc causes arm pain.  Sometimes referred to as a pinched nerve, a Herniated Disc is more common in the 35-50 plus age group, as aging or wear and tear are the primary contributing factors to this condition.

what are the


Lumbar Herniated Disc symptoms

Lumbar Herniated Disc symptoms differ considerably in magnitude, as there may only be mild to moderate pain in the back or buttock area. However, in more severe cases, numbness or loss of strength may be present, and are two conditions which call for immediate medical attention. Other symptoms are:

  • Leg Pain, usually worse than back pain
  • Nerve pain, described as searing, sharp, radiating, or piercing
  • Pain affects one side of the body
  • “Pins and needles” or tingling
  • A condition known as “foot drop”
  • Pain gets worse when leaning forward or with movement
  • Low back pain
  • Pain escalates quickly

Cervical Herniated Disc Symptoms

A herniated disc in the upper portion of the spine presses on a cervical nerve, causing the most significant amount of pain when the nerve is first affected, then tends to lessen. The symptoms of a cervical “pinched nerve” will vary according to the location of the affected disc, and may indlude:

  • Pain which radiates down the arm
  • Neck pain
  • Numbness or tingling in the arm, hand or fingers
  • Muscle weakness in the shoulder or arm

How is it


A medical, or “clinical”, diagnosis will concentrate on finding the underlying cause of the paitents back, leg, arm, neck, or other type of pain.  Four components are used for the clinical diagnosis, and are the first steps in determining the cause of pain:

  • A full review of the patient's medical history
  • Review of symptoms
  • A complete physical exam
  • One or more diagnostic tests (if needed)

What are the


Non-Surgical Treatments for a Lumbar Herniated Disc

Most lumbar herniated disc symptoms will resolve themselves within six weeks, therefore, non-surgical treatment is usually the first option. The nature and severity of the symptoms will dictate which treatments are recommended, including:

  • Ice packs
  • Pain and anti anti-inflammatory medications
  • Muscle relaxers
  • Heat
  • Both heat and ice

Extending periods of bed rest of beyond the customary one or two days is not recommended, as this can lead to stiffness and more discomfort. After sufficient rest, light activity and movement is the next course of action. However, heavy lifting and strenuous exercise is not advisable during this time.


Non-Surgical Treatment of Cervical Herniated Disc

In addition to massage therapy, ice, heat, anti inflammatory or steroid medications, treatment options can include:

  • Physical therapy and exercise
  • Traction or Bracing
  • Activity modification (such as eliminating heavy lifting or sports during recovery time)
  • Injections

When non-surgical treatments are not effective in providing relief, minimally invasive surgical options are the next step in resolving both Lumbar and Cervical Herniated Discs.