What Does a Herniated Disc Look Like?

What Does a Herniated Disc Look Like?

A herniated disc occurs when a facet of your spinal column slips from alignment. Slipped discs can compress nerves, resulting in pain, numbness, and discomfort in the affected area. This discomfort may affect mobility and limit your range of motion, affecting your quality of life. Working with a pain management dr can help alleviate the discomfort.

Disc slips may happen when the rubbery jelly separating facets ruptures. The jelly-like substance often leaks, pushing on nerves and other facets. This may affect your spinal column alignment. Without the gel-filled nucleus, herniated discs cause vertebrae to rub together, affecting mobility.


Slipped discs can occur on any part of your spinal column, from the neck to lower back discs. Here are some systems common in patients with herniated discs:

  •    Pain: Nerves along the spinal column help transmit signals to the brain. Herniated discs compress them, which can be painful. Pain from slipped discs may worsen with specific movements or prolonged inactivity like sleeping or sitting. If left untreated, pain from herniated discs can extend to the arms and legs as they have to support the extra body weight.
  •    Inflammation: Swelling is common in the region experiencing the herniated disc. Patients often experience a tingling sensation in the swollen part, but it can lessen over time.
  •    Numbness: Slipped discs may affect your range of motion and mobility. You may need to spend extended periods sitting in the same position. This can cause numbness to one side of the body, resulting in extra discomfort.
  •    Muscle Weakness: Since slipped discs can affect balance and posture, they influence overall body function. The pain can prevent your muscles from completing regular contractions, causing weakness. Muscle weakness may result in extensive fatigue and a de-motivation to engage in any activity.
  •    Dark Appearance on the Skin: Nucleus rupture can press on blood vessels along the spinal column. This may inhibit blood flow, causing a darker appearance on the skin covering the area.


Common causes of slipped discs include:

  •    Age: The prevalence of herniated discs is higher among older adults since the spinal facets start losing some protective material with age. Losing the protective water content weakens the outer ring of your spinal discs. This increases the likelihood of your disc slipping out of place.
  •    Particular Motions: Movements like sudden turning or twisting can cause a spinal disc to slip. Physically demanding tasks like lifting heavy objects might force you to assume challenging positions. The weight can strain your lower back, causing slipped discs. Avoid these movements to help prevent slipped discs.
  •    Trauma: Accidents can cause a direct hit on facets and cause the discs to slip.
  •    Body Weight: Overweight and obese people may be at a higher risk of experiencing a slipped disc since their spine must accommodate the extra weight.
  •    Lifestyle issues: Leading a sedentary lifestyle may increase the likelihood of developing a slipped disc.


Slipped discs can be confused with bulging discs. A professional diagnosis can help identify herniated discs to plan the right treatment.

Some ways doctors diagnose herniated discs include:

  •    Physical Exam: Doctors can typically predict herniated discs’ location. They palpate the area you experience discomfort and investigate inflammations to identify the slipped disc. Your physical exam may involve evaluating muscle strength and nerve function to determine the extent of any damage due to the slipped disc.
  •    Medical Imaging: Doctors conduct imaging tests to view spinal alignment and identify damaged areas. Types of medical imaging options include X-rays, MRI scans, discograms, and CT scans.

Work With the Best Pain Management Dr

Pain is a common symptom of herniated discs which affects mobility and quality of life. If left untreated, the pain may extend to the legs and hips, causing further discomfort. Working with a pain management dr can help you manage the discomfort and improve your range of motion.