A spinal disc is a rubbery, circular structure, composed of a rigid outer layer with a soft gelatinous center. Spinal discs allow for cushioning between vertebrae and are responsible for the flexibility of the spine. A disc is considered herniated when the tough outer layer is broken (most commonly through vigorous movement, intense strain, or exercise) and the soft inner core begins to leak out. While some who have a disc herniation experience no symptoms, others feel numbness, weakness, tingling, or pain if the disc’s inner core compresses/pinches an existing nerve.
The most common treatment for a herniated disc is simply avoiding positions or activities that cause discomfort and following a regular pain medication regimen. With these measures, patients usually feel relief from symptoms within a few weeks. More infrequently, if pain continues, your doctor may recommend physical therapy or surgery.