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Disc Hernia

A slipped disc can occur at any level in the spine. A rupture or splits that can occur with time, on the discDISC HERNIA that is located between the bones of the spine is known as a slipped disc. The gel-like substance known as nucleus pulposus inside the discs can be ejected through this anular tear. This is called a herniation of the nucleus pulposus—or a herniated disc. The elasticity and water content of the nucleus pulposus decrease with age and because of this people in the age group of 30 to 50 are those most at risk for herniation. If the disc herniates in the direction of the spinal cord or nerve root, it can cause neurologic compromise. Disc herniations in the cervical spine can be serious. If significant enough, they can cause paralysis of both the upper and lower extremities, though this is extremely rare.


Symptoms of a herniated disc may include dull or sharp pain, muscle spasm or cramping, weakness, tingling or referred pain.

Referred pain means that you have pain in another part of your part as a result of the disc problem. For example, if you have a bulging disc or a herniated disc in your low back, you may have referred pain in your leg known as sciatica—a shooting pain that can extend from the buttock into the leg and sometimes into the foot. Usually just one leg is affected.

The following are the emergency signs that can be noted:

  • Severe or mild disabling pain
  • Pain is getting worse
  • Pain in the legs or arms along with weakness, numbness or a tingling
  • Loss of feeling or weakness in your bladder or anus
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control

Conservative treatment is first adviced for such situations. If a patient does not have relief post 6 to 12Normal and Heriated Disc weeks of conservative care, then surgical intervention may be suggested to treat the lumbar herniated disk. Surgery helps alleviate the pain faster. In event of severe pain and functional disability, surgery may be a good option even before six weeks of symptoms.

In rare situations where a progressive neurological deficit, or a sudden onset of bowel or bladder dysfunction is noted an immediate surgical evaluation is suggested because these symptoms and conditions represent a surgical emergency. Most surgery for a lumbar herniated disk is an elective procedure.

Surgical treatment options for the lumbar herniated disk include:

  • Microdiscectomy (the most common procedure)
  • Lumbar laminectomy
  • Chymopapain injections
  • Arthroscopic lumbar discectomy
  • Microendoscopic surgery

A lumbar microdiscectomy (also called a lumbar micro-decompression) is considered the gold standard and is the most common surgery to alleviate pain from a lumbar herniated disk.

This procedure is done under spinal anaesthesia. Hospitalisation would vary between 2 to 4 days. One can resuume normal basic activities in 7 to 10 days.


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