Herniated disc

Understanding Herniated Disc: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment Options in India

Herniated disc, also known as a slipped or ruptured disc, is a common condition affecting millions of people around the globe. In essence, it's a condition where a disc that sits between the bones of the spine, called vertebrae, becomes damaged and presses on the nerves. This can cause pain, numbness, or weakness in the back and limbs.


The spine is a sophisticated structure made up of a series of bones stacked onto each other. Between these bones are disc-like structures that act as shock absorbers, allowing flexibility while protecting the spine from impact. Each disc is like a jelly donut, with a soft center encased within a tougher exterior.

In a herniated disc, some of the softer 'jelly' pushes out through a tear in the tougher exterior. When this herniated disc compresses nearby nerves, it can lead to pain, numbness, or weakness in the back or limbs - a hallmark of this condition. Depending on where the herniated disc is, these symptoms can be felt in different areas of the body.

Causes of Herniated disc

Herniated discs are most often the result of age-related wear and tear, called disc degeneration. As we age, our spinal discs lose some of their water content, making them less flexible and more prone to rupture or tear even from a minor strain or twist.

However, certain factors may increase the risk of a herniated disc, such as:

Physical Occupation:

Jobs that demand heavy physical work, especially those involving repetitive lifting, pulling, pushing, bending sideways or twisting, can increase the risk of a herniated disc.


Excess body weight causes extra stress on the discs in your lower back.


Some individuals may inherit a predisposition to developing a herniated disc.

Symptoms of Herniated disc

The symptoms of a herniated disc can vary based on the location and severity of the condition. The most common symptoms include:

1. Pain:This can occur in the affected area of the spine or may radiate along the nerves affected by the disc herniation. For instance, if the herniated disc is in your lower back, you'll typically feel the most pain in your buttocks, thigh, and calf. If it's in your neck, the pain will be most intense in your shoulder and arm.

2. Numbness or Tingling:These sensations may be felt in the body part served by the affected nerves.

3. Weakness:Muscles served by the affected nerves tend to weaken, affecting your ability to lift or hold items.

Diagnosis of Herniated disc

Doctors usually diagnose a herniated disc through a combination of physical examination and imaging tests. During the physical exam, your doctor will check your nerve function by assessing your muscle strength, walking ability, and sensation in your limbs. Your doctor may also ask you to lie flat and move your legs in specific ways to determine the cause of your pain.

If more information is needed, your doctor may recommend imaging tests such as X-rays, Computerised Tomography (CT) scans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), or a discogram. These tests can provide detailed images of the discs and nerves.

Precautions for Herniated disc

While you can't entirely prevent a herniated disc, these steps can reduce your risk:

Taking precautions is essential to manage tendonitis effectively and prevent further aggravation. Some common precautions include:

1. Maintain Good Posture: Poor posture puts pressure on your back and can cause disc degeneration. Maintain good posture while sitting, standing, and lifting things.

2. Stay Active: Regular physical activity helps keep your spine strong and flexible, reducing the risk of back injuries.

3. Lift Properly: When lifting heavy objects, bend and lift from your knees rather than your back to reduce the strain on your spine.

4. Maintain a Healthy Weight: Excess weight puts more pressure on the spine and discs, making them more susceptible to herniation.

Treatments for Herniated disc

The treatment of a herniated disc in India encompasses a wide array of methods ranging from non-surgical therapies to surgical procedures at some of the country's top hospitals. Here's what you can expect:

1. Non-Surgical Treatments:

These are often the first-line of treatment and may include rest, pain relief medication, muscle relaxants, physical therapy, and cortisone injections.

2. Surgical Treatments:

If non-surgical treatments aren't effective, surgery may be recommended. Options include microdiscectomy, a minimally invasive procedure to remove the portion of the disc causing nerve compression, and spinal fusion, a procedure to stabilise the spine after disc removal.

Top hospitals in India, such as AIIMS Delhi, Apollo Hospitals, and Fortis Healthcare, offer advanced and comprehensive treatment options for herniated disc.


Remember, if you suspect you have a herniated disc, consult with a healthcare professional. They can provide an accurate diagnosis and guide you towards the best treatment plan based on your specific needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

In some cases, symptoms of a herniated disc can improve over time, and the body may be able to reduce the herniation naturally. However, professional medical treatment is often needed to manage symptoms and prevent further damage.

While heavy lifting or intense activities may worsen your symptoms, regular low-impact activities like walking or swimming can help maintain your spine's flexibility and strength. Consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

While rare, severe cases of a herniated disc can cause paralysis if the disc compresses the spinal cord. Immediate medical attention is required in such instances.

No, surgery is typically a last resort when conservative treatments fail or if there's severe nerve compression. Many people with a herniated disc can improve with non-surgical treatments.

While surgery for a herniated disc is generally successful, there's a small risk the disc could herniate again.

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