(Disk, Herniated; Herniation of Nucleus Pulposus [HNP]; Prolapsed Disc; Ruptured Disc; Slipped Disc)
by Amy Scholten, MPH
Discs are small circular cushions between the bones in the spine. The bones are called vertebrae. The discs are compressible. They act as cushions for the vertebrae. A herniated disc happens when discs in the spine bulge from their proper place. This is most common in the lower spine.
Herniated discs can occur when discs lose water content, become flatter, and provide less cushioning. It can also occur when the disc is damaged by trauma.
Risk Factors TOP
These factors increase your chance of developing a herniated disc:
Symptoms may include:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your spine will be examined. The movement, strength, and reflexes of your arms and legs will be tested.
Images may be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with:
Staying active may be better than bed rest. Treatments may include:
The following therapies may be used:
Your doctor may advise:
Interventional Spine Care TOP
Interventional spine care treatments may include:
Surgery may be used for people who fail to respond to other treatments. Immediate surgery is necessary for cauda equina syndrome. Options include:
To help reduce your chances of getting a herniated disc, take the following steps:
American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons
American Chiropractic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Awad JN. Moskovich R. Lumbar disc herniations: surgical versus nonsurgical treatment. Clinical Orthopaedics & Related Research. 2006;443:183-197.
When you have a herniated disc. Am Fam Physician. 2003 May 15;67(10):2195-2196. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed November 22, 2013.
Last reviewed November 2013 by John C. Keel, MD; Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 11/22/2013