Common Types of Disc Injuries

The human body has 24 spinal discs between the back and neck vertebrae. The discs have a tough outer material and soft, gel-like inner tissue. They create a cushion between the individual bones. 


The spinal discs act as shock absorbers that protect the vertebrae from forceful impact and other jarring activities. An injury or problem with any of the discs can cause uncomfortable symptoms. 



Herniated/Slipped Disc 


One of the most prevalent disc injuries is a herniated disc. Also known as a slipped or ruptured disc, it occurs when the soft inner material pushes through the tough exterior. The soft material pushes through a tear in the membrane, sometimes irritating the nerves and causing severe pain. 


People with herniated discs usually experience numbness, tingling, weakness, leg pain, and arm pain. The condition often occurs due to aging but can also be due to injury. It can result from falls, improper lifting techniques, and back blows.  



Bulging Disc 


People often confuse bulging discs with herniated discs, but they are different back problems. In bulging discs, the soft inner material does not leak through. Instead, it causes a bulge on one of the discs, but the tough disc membrane remains intact. 


Bulges usually occur along the side and rear parts of the disc, exerting nerve pressure and causing pain. Bulging disc symptoms include pain, numbness, weakness, tingling, heaviness, difficulty walking, and a burning sensation. 



Degenerative Disc Disease 


The natural aging process can gradually wear the spinal discs. While it does not affect everyone, degenerative disc disease is common among senior adults. Damage to the discs due to low blood supply causes pain. The inability of the discs to repair themselves after injury worsens the condition. 


Symptoms include tingling and numbness in the extremities and pain that worsens while bending, sitting, twisting, or lifting. The pain can range from nagging to debilitating, often lasting days or months. 



Spinal Stenosis 


Spinal stenosis occurs when the open spaces of the spine become narrow. It usually occurs in the neck and lower back, causing pressure on the nerves. The pressure travels through the spine, causing symptoms that often worsen over time. The symptoms depend on the site of the narrowing. 


Patients can suffer from cervical spinal stenosis in the neck or lower back spinal stenosis. Symptoms include difficulty walking and poor sense of balance. It can also lead to loss of bladder and bowel control, neck pain, tingling, numbness, and limb weakness. 





Sciatica refers to the symptoms that affect the large sciatic nerve running along the back of the legs. The nerve pain usually occurs alongside numbness, tingling, and weakness in the limb. The symptoms begin in the back and travel along the back of the leg. 


The condition usually affects one leg, the pain traveling down to the foot and toes. The pain, described as burning, tingling, or tearing, is often more severe when sitting. Sciatica describes symptoms of medical conditions, including degenerative disc disease, herniated discs, spondylolisthesis, and spinal stenosis. 


Health providers recommend disc injury treatment based on the type. Treatment options range from medications and surgery to therapy and other alternative treatments. 


For more on common types of disc injuries, contact Back and Neck Pain Centers at our Seattle, Bellevue, or Tukwila, Washington offices. Call (206) 233-0818, (206) 772-0088, (425) 649-9335, or (425) 243-1200, respectively, to schedule an appointment today.,-122.3224811,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x54906abdb7cbe727:0x3296731966a08bfe!8m2!3d47.5994877!4d-122.3202924 none 9:00am - 6:00pm 9:00am - 6:00pm 9:00am - 6:00pm 9:00am - 6:00pm 9:00am - 6:00pm Closed Closed,3,,,