Herniated Disc



Spinal bones are separated by discs. These discs cushion the spinal column and put space between your vertebrae. The discs allow movement between the vertebrae, which lets you bend, turn and reach. A disc may move out of place (herniate) or break open (rupture) from injury or strain. When this happens, there may be pressure on the spinal nerves. When people say they have a “slipped” or “ruptured” disk in their neck or lower back, what they are actually describing is a herniated disk – a common source of pain in the neck, lower back, arms, or legs. The pain most often occurs on one side of the body. You may also have weakness in certain muscles, numbness or tingling feeling in one arm or leg. In rare cases, a herniated disk may press on nerves that cause you to lose control of your bladder or bowel.


In children and young adults, disks have high water content. With age, the water content in the discs decreases and the discs become less flexible. Conditions that can weaken the disk include:

  • Improper lifting (not using proper lifting techniques, and lifting heavy objects)
  • Being overweight
  • Repetitive strenuous activity
  • Smoking

The first treatment for a slipped disk is a short period of rest with medicines for the pain. This is followed by physiotherapy. Most people recover and return to normal activities. Some persons may need more treatment including injections or surgery. Physiotherapy includes:

  • Mobilisation techniques
  • Bracing
  • Ultrasound and/or electrical stimulation
  • Therapeutic exercises to stretch and strengthen muscles and improve posture
  • Education about proper lifting techniques