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What Is a Herniated Disc?

Between each pair of vertebrae (bones) in the spine is a disc that provides a cushion for the bones — a shock absorber of sorts. Each disc consists of a soft interior (called a nucleus) with a tough outer layer (called an annulus). If that outer layer tears, the nucleus can bulge out or even fragment. That condition is called a herniated disc, also called a slipped disc or bulging disc.

Herniated discs may cause little or no pain, depending on whether or not they put pressure against the nerves. They can be extremely painful if the pressure against the nerve is great. A disc herniation can also compress the spinal cord. The good news is that most patients with a herniated disc will make a full recovery. Some will require more advanced bulging disc treatment.

doctor examining patient's middle back

What Causes a Herniated Disc?

A herniated disc can be the result of traumatic injury or a sudden strain. It can also occur as a result of degenerative disc disease, or age-related degeneration.

grandmother teaching granddaughter how to ride a bike

How Can a Herniated Disc Be Prevented?

Abdominal muscles support the vertebrae, so exercises that strengthen the abdominals provide more spine stability and can help prevent a disc from herniating (or prevent a herniated disc from worsening or recurring). Being overweight or experiencing stress can also contribute to the risk of a herniated disc, as can lifting heavy items using poor form. Always bend your knees when you lift anything.

Top Doctors for Herniated Disc in New York

Are you suffering from disc herniation? Weill Cornell Medicine’s Center for Comprehensive Spine Care can help. Our experienced physicians will diagnose a slipped disc and recommend the proper course of action. If needed, the Center’s team of skilled surgeons can provide advanced herniated disc treatments, such as minimally invasive herniated disc surgery performed at our state-of-the-art facility.

We’ve Got Your Back

For more information about our treatment options, contact our office today.