Lumbar Herniated Disc - What Happens
age, injury, or both, the outer layer of a
spinal disc may dry out
and form tiny cracks. Sometimes this causes a:
- Bulging disc.
Some of the thick gel in the disc may leak into the cracks. The disc may begin
to bulge out from between the bones of the spine (vertebrae).
- Ruptured disc. The gel breaks through the capsule.
fragment. Fragments of a ruptured disc may break completely free of the
disc and lodge in the spinal
Any of these stages can cause pressure on a
nerve root and symptoms
of pain and numbness.
The cracks in the disc don't repair themselves,
but the pain usually fades over time. Often the body reabsorbs the material
from the disc, which helps the pain go away. This process is called
resorption. About half of
the people with herniated discs in the low back recover within 1 month. And
within 6 months, most recover.1
It's important to see your doctor
if you've had constant or increasing pain for more than 4 to 6 weeks. Getting
help early on can lower your chance of having lasting problems, such as the
- Pain may come and go. Pain-free periods happen less and
- Long-lasting (chronic) and recurring pain can develop because
of continued tissue irritation caused by the disc pressing on a nerve.
- Chronic pain syndrome
can result from having ongoing pain, causing depression, anxiety, and trouble
coping with daily life.
- Symptoms caused by long-term nerve root
compression include loss of agility, strength, or sensation in one or both legs