In between each pair of vertebrae is a disc which acts like a soft cushion between the bones. If a disc is damaged, it may bulge or break open. When this happens, it is referred to as a herniated disc. It may also be called a ruptured or a slipped disc.
A herniated disc may be caused by the wear and tear of the disc as you age or, by an injury to the spine. When this happens, the gel inside the disc can be pushed through the outer layer and cause the disc to bulge or rupture.
If the herniated disc is not pressing on a nerve, you may have a backache or no pain at all. However, should the gel come in contact with the nerve, irritation can occur. Extreme, sudden pain is usually the first symptom.
Although a disc may herniate in any part of your spine, most herniated discs affect the lumbar spine, or the lower back. Sciatica, which is pain and numbness in the buttock and down the leg, is the most common symptom of a herniated disc in the lower back.
There are many treatment options available, today. To find the treatment that suits you best, contact your physician.