Herniated Disc: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019

A herniated disc refers to an intervertebral disc of the spinal column slipping out of its normal anatomic location. The discs act as cushions between the vertebral bodies (bones of the spine). This is referred to as a disc herniation or more commonly a "slipped disc."

Signs and symptoms of a herniated disc are caused by the disc pressing against adjacent spinal nerves. Symptoms can include shooting pain in the distribution of the affected nerve, pins and needles sensation, tingling, burning, or numbness. Other associated symptoms and signs can include muscle weakness, muscle spasms, and incontinence of bowel or bladder.

Causes of a herniated disc

The discs can degenerate due to age or injury, causing the softer central portion to rupture (herniate) through the surrounding outer ring (annulus fibrosus).

Other herniated disc symptoms and signs


Nearly everyone has low back pain at some time during their life. See Answer

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.