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).


Getting an accurate diagnosis and finding the best treatments for pain from a herniated disc can be challenging. Some patients find that a combination of conservative treatment options works best.

A lumbar herniated disc causes symptoms of sciatica and possible foot pain, numbness or weakness. Learn about symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options for a herniated disc in the lumbar spine.

If cervical herniated disc pain does not resolve in a few weeks to a couple of months, surgery is an option if the pain is severe and lasting longer than 6 to 12 weeks. Learn more about surgical options.

If lumbar herniated disc symptoms persist after non-surgical treatment, surgery may be considered. Learn about the surgical options.

If a course of conservative treatments is not effective for relieving pain from a herniated disc, lumbar decompression surgery may be considered as an option.

Pain is the most common symptom of a thoracic herniated disc and may be isolated to the upper back or radiate in a dermatomal (single nerve root) pattern.

Thoracic herniated discs have a variety of conservative (non-surgical) and surgical options for treatment, including activity modification, exercise, and the VATS procedure.


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