Herniated discs are most common in the lumbar spine--the part of your backbone between the bottom of your ribs and your hips. Discs are soft "cushions" between the bones of the spine. The drawing to the left shows the spine. The spine holds up your body. It also protects your spinal cord and nerves. The discs in the spine let you move your backbone.
As you grow older, your discs become flatter--less cushiony. If a disc becomes too weak, the outer part may tear. The inside part of the disc pushes through the tear and presses on the nerves beside it. Herniated discs are most common in people in their 30s and 40s.
When part of a disc presses on a nerve, it can cause pain in both the back and the legs. The location of the pain depends on which disc is weak. How bad the pain is depends on how much of the disc is pressing on the nerve. In most people with a herniated disc, the pain spreads over the buttocks and goes down the back of one thigh and into the calf. Some people have pain in both legs. Some people's legs or feet feel numb or tingly.
The pain from a herniated disc is usually worse when you're active and gets better when you're resting. Coughing, sneezing, sitting, driving and bending forward may make the pain worse. The pain gets worse when you do these things because they all put more pressure on the nerve.
This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Please contact Dr. Youdeem to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.