A herniated disc is a condition in which the annulus fibrosus (outer portion) of the vertebral disc is torn, enabling the nucleus (inner portion) to herniate or extrude through the fibers. The herniated material can compress the nerves around the disc and create pain that can radiate through the back and sometimes down the arms (if the herniation is in the cervical spine) and legs (if the herniation is in the lumbar spine).
Pain and other symptoms from a herniated disc can usually be treated successfully with medication and nonsurgical options including physical therapy, chiropractic manipulation, and injections. In some cases, a discectomy or microdiscectomy surgery can be performed on the herniated disc to decompress the nerve root.
The herniated disc material is similar to crab meat in constitution. During surgery, generally only the disc material compressing the nerve will be removed, and most (95%) of the intervertebral disc material is left in place.