Intervertebral discs are located between each vertebral body in the spine. They act as shock absorbers between each vertebra and allow a small amount of motion between any two vertebrae.
Intervertebral discs consist of two parts; a hard outer layer and soft central core.
A tear or break in the outer layer may allow leakage of the soft central portion into the spinal canal causing irritation or pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots at that level. This is called a herniated or ruptured disc.
Herniated discs can occur at any level in the spine but occur more frequently in the lumbar (low back) area. The next most common area is in the cervical (neck) region followed by the thoracic spine (mid-back) area.
May be from injury to the disc or from the natural wear and tear of everyday life.
May include back pain, arm/leg pain, arm/leg numbness or loss of bowel/bladder control depending on the amount of herniation and the level in the spine where it occurs.
Determined by the severity of the symptoms.
Surgery may be required to remove the herniated disc if a reasonable period of rest, physical therapy and medication do not relieve symptoms.