A herniated disc is simply a fatigue response of a disc, typically occurring over years of wear and tear. If the disc herniates near the spinal canal, the nucleus can squeeze out and put pressure on the spinal canal or nerve, causing symptoms that radiate away from the herniation. Herniated discs are more common in middle-aged adults, as aging discs degenerate and become weak.
While an isolated event can directly harm the disc, most often there is no specific causative event. Poor posture and bending/lifting activities are the most common culprits in disc herniation.
Common symptoms include arm or leg pain, weakness, or numbness. A herniated disc in the neck can result in shoulder or arm pain, while a herniated disc in the back can result in pain in the glutes, thighs, or calves.
Tests to diagnose and determine treatment of a herniation include a CT scan, MRI, and discogram.
Conservative treatment can often alleviate most herniation symptoms.