Disc Herniation

Treating Your Herniated Disc Pain

Herniated discs are often called disc protrusions, disc extrusions, annular tears, prolapsed discs and ruptured discs.  A disc herniates when a tear forms in the outer portion of the disc, allowing the softer disc center to move outward.  This can occur anywhere in the spine and is the most common cause of low back pain/sciatic pain.  Occasionally, herniated discs visible on an MRI produce no pain or symptoms.  Herniation may result from aging or wear and tear, and is also called degenerative disc disease.  Sudden forces applied to the spine in a motor vehicle accident can be great enough to start the process of herniation with a tear to annular fibers. Poor lifting techniques, prolonged sitting, being overweight, smoking and sedentary lifestyle may contribute to the development of a herniated disc.

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Symptoms & Treatment


The symptoms of herniated discs will vary greatly depending upon the size and position of the herniated disc. The most common symptoms of a herniated disc are:

  • Pain/numbness in the buttocks and/or leg with a herniated-lumbar disc
  • Pain/numbness in the shoulder, arm with a herniated-cervical disc
  • Pain/numbness in the shoulder blades and/or chest with a herniated-thoracic disc
  • Pain when sneezing, coughing and/or laughing
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control (requires immediate medical care)


Some of the most common treatments for a herniated disc include:

  • Education
  • Physical therapy
  • Medication
  • Injections
  • Surgery (last option)

Typically, a combination of treatments works best to treat a herniated disc.

Common Questions

How long will it take to treat a herniated disc?  

There are a number of variables that will effect healing time including the condition of the disc; the physical therapy regimen; how each patient responds to the treatment; and if the patient is following the doctor/physical therapist’s advice on physical activities.

Where can I be treated for a herniated or slipped disc?  

SpineOne is Denver’s premier medical center for the treatment of spine-related conditions and disorders, including treatment for a herniated disc. We recommend you call and schedule an appointment with one of our highly qualified physicians to get back in the swing of things.

Is there exercise or stretching that I can do to help?   

Yes, there are stretches and exercises that you can do to help alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with a herniated disc. You’ll want to speak with your doctor and/or physical therapist to discover which activities may work best for you.

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