Problems are more common in the lower spine. The main symptom is pain that may:
- Be sharp, dull, piercing, aching, burning, or throbbing
- May spread over the back, buttocks, down the back of one thigh, and into the calf
- Be in one leg or both legs
Other problems may be:
- Numbness, tingling, or weakness in the legs, feet, or in one or both arms
- A sudden aching or twisted neck that cannot be straightened without feeling pain
- Numbness in the groin (rare)
- Bowel or bladder changes (rare)
Most people start to feel better in a few days or weeks. Staying active may be better than full rest.
The goal of treatment is to manage symptoms. Choices are:
- Supportive care, such as not sitting for long periods of time, avoiding things that cause pain, and using cold or warm compresses
- Physical therapy to promote strength, flexibility, and range of motion
- Medicines, such as:
- Over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers
- Steroid injections to ease pain and swelling
People who are not helped by these methods may need surgery. Choices are:
- Laminectomy to remove some of the bone over the spine and problem disc
- Microdiscectomy to remove fragments of herniated disc through a small incision
- Spinal fusion to fuse vertebrae together with bone grafts or metal rods (rare)
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
Copyright © EBSCO Information Services
All rights reserved.
a (Herniation of Nucleus Pulposus [HNP]; Prolapsed Disc; Ruptured Disc; Slipped Disc)
North American Spine Society http://www.spine.org
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons http://www.orthoinfo.org
Canadian Orthopaedic Association http://www.coa-aco.org
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation http://www.canorth.org
Deyo RA, Mirza SK. CLINICAL PRACTICE. Herniated Lumbar Intervertebral Disk. N Engl J Med. 2016 May 5;374(18):1763-1772.
Herniated disk in the lower back. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/herniated-disk-in-the-lower-back. Accessed February 17, 2021.
Lumbar disk herniation. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/lumbar-disk-herniation. Accessed February 17, 2021.