What Is A Herniated Disc?
Some people develop low back pain that does not go away within days. This may mean there is an injury to a disc. Small tears to the outer part of the disc (annulus) sometimes occur with aging. Some people with disc tears have no pain at all. Others can have pain that lasts for weeks, months, or even longer. A small number of people may develop constant pain that lasts for years and is quite disabling. Why some people have pain and others don’t is not currently well understood.
Another common type of disc injury is a “slipped” or herniated disc. A disc herniates when its jelly-like center (nucleus) pushes against its outer ring (annulus). If the disc is very worn or injured, the nucleus may squeeze all the way through. When the herniated disc bulges out toward the spinal canal, it puts pressure on the sensitive spinal nerves, causing pain.
Because a herniated disc in the low back often puts pressure on the nerve root leading to the leg and foot, pain often occurs in the buttock and down the leg. This is called sciatica. A herniated disc often occurs with lifting, pulling, bending, or twisting movements.