Herniated Discs 



Sore muscle or herniated disc? 

Back pain is a common complaint as we age. But how do you know if your pain is muscle-related or if it's something more? One common culprit is a herniated disc. A herniated disc, also known as a bulging, ruptured or slipped disc, is a condition that typically occurs in the neck or low back.

What is a disc?

Discs are found between vertebrae and have two main parts: a soft, jelly-like middle and a harder outside ring. Discs act as shock absorbers, and over time, a disc can wear. As we age, or after an injury, the soft part can herniate, or go through, the harder outside ring. When this happens, you may experience neck or lower-back pain. If the disc pushes on a nerve, you may feel pain in the arm (neck nerve) or leg (lower-back nerve). It can be hard to distinguish between muscle and disc pain, and we can help. Treatment usually starts with physical therapy – an incredible tool to strengthen muscle and stabilize joints. Non-surgical injections can also calm inflammation and decrease pain.


In this Q&A video, watch spine specialists Jacob Buchowski, MD, MS, and Deeptee Jain, MD, discuss what a herniated disc is, common symptoms and what type of treatments are available to relieve your pain.

Learn more about spine care at Washington University Orthopedics, and why patients choose WashU Ortho for their care. 

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