As a disc degenerates, the soft inner gel in the disc can leak back into the spinal canal. This is known as disc herniation, or herniated disc. Once inside the spinal canal, the herniated disc material then puts pressure on the nerve, causing pain to radiate down the nerve leading to sciatica or leg pain (from a lumbar herniated disc) or arm pain (from a cervical herniated disc).


When a cervical herniated disc causes symptoms, it can range from a mild neck ache to debilitating arm pain or weakness. Signs and symptoms can also vary depending on which nerve root is affected.

A medical diagnosis of disc problems such as a herniated disc consists of 3 steps: reviewing medical history, a physical examination and diagnostic tests.

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