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Herniated Disc

Overview | Causes | Symptoms| Diagnosis | Treatment | FAQS


The bones that form your spine in your back are cushioned by small, spongy discs. When these discs are healthy, they act as shock absorbers for the spine and keep the spine flexible. However, when a disc is damaged, it may bulge or break open. This is called a herniated disc.

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A herniated disc can be caused by general wear and tear of the disc (aging) or injury to the spine.

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Some of the symptoms that occur with a herniated disc are:

  • Pain
  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Pain radiating down in to the leg
  • Backache

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Diagnosis of a herniated disc generally includes physical examination by your physician including a detailed medical history. In some cases, your physician may also order an MRI or CT scan to accurately diagnose a herniated disc.

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Symptoms from a herniated disc usually get better in a few weeks or months. Treatment varies for each patient and can include any of the following:

  • Rest
  • Heat therapy
  • Exercises

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When should I see a doctor about my herniated disc symptoms?

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Leg pain accompanied by persistent weakness, tingling or numbness in any part of the leg from the buttock to the ankle or foot.
  • Low back pain accompanied by vomiting and / or fever
  • Back pain that persists or builds in intensity over a few weeks
  • Back pain accompanied by pain during urination or blood in the urine
  • Back pain that is worse when you are resting
  • Bowel or bladder control issues

Is surgery necessary?

Most people who have a herniated disc do not need surgery because their symptoms tend to improve over time. About 50% recover within a month and within 6 months 96% recover. Only about 10% of people with herniated disc problems end up having surgery.

How can I prevent a herniated disc from developing or coming back?

  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Exercise regularly
  • Stop smoking
  • Practice good posture
  • Use proper lifting techniques

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