What is it?
A herniated disc is where the nucleus pulposus or “jelly center” of the disc pushes the hard outer ring or annulus outward or breaks through. The discs of the spine are the shock absorbers or cushions of the spine. Also, they allow movement to occur in the spine.

How does it occur?
The disc can herniated abruptly or develop over time. When the disc or cushion of the spine is overloaded or stressful twisting occurs, the fibers of the outer ring or annulus will tear. This allows the nucleus pulposus to push the annulus outward or tear through it.

What are the symptoms?
The symptoms may include back pain and discomfort. If the disc chemically irritates or compresses a nerve root it can produce radicular symptoms which travel or radiated down a leg or an arm. These symptoms include pain, numbness and weakness.

How is it evaluated?
A physical examination can identify if a disc problem is present. X-rays, an MRI or an EMG may be needed to help determine the cause and help determine treatment options.

How is it treated?
Herniated discs are treated with activity modification, cortisone or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, epidural steroid injections and at times, surgery. Most individuals will respond to conservative treatment.

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