Herniated Discs: What You Need to Know

Herniated discs, also known as ruptured discs or slipped discs, occur when the rubbery cushions (discs) that lie between the vertebrae in your spinal cord are damaged. Depending on where the ruptured disc is located, you may experience a tear in nearby nerves, resulting in weakness, pain, or numbness. In this post, we will explore the main cause of herniated discs and the reasons you should consult Dr. William L. Yancey for any of your herniated disc problems.

 Herniated Disc Causes

Disc herniation is mainly triggered by the gradual, aging-related wear and tear process, also known as disc degeneration. This is because, with age, your discs tend to become less flexible and at a high risk of rupturing or tearing, even with a minor twist or strain. Moreover, there are other common causes of herniated discs that include:

  • OccupationIf you happen to be involved in jobs that require repetitive pushing, pulling, twisting, lifting, and bending sideways, you are at a higher risk of a ruptured disc. 
  • SmokingIt is believed that excessive smoking tends to decrease the oxygen supply to the disc, causing it to break quickly.
  • Weight– Being overweight often exerts excessive stress on the discs in your lower back. 
  • GeneticsIt is also possible to inherit an inclination to develop a slipped disc.

Symptoms of Herniated Discs

Most herniated disc cases occur in the lower back, and others can occur in the neck. Nevertheless, the signs of herniated discs mainly depend on whether the disc is pressing on a nerve and where the disc is located. The following are some of the common symptoms of herniated discs:

  • If your ruptured disk is in your lower back, you are likely to feel the most pain in your calf, thigh, foot, and buttocks.
  • If your herniated disk is situated in your neck, you will feel the most pain in your shoulder and arm. This pain could also extend into your leg or arm when you cough and sneeze.
  • Sharp and burning pain.
  • Weakened muscles that cause you to stumble or affect your ability to hold or lift items.
  • Tingling or radiating numbness, especially in the body parts with many affected nerves.

You can still have a ruptured disc without symptoms.

Preventing Herniated Discs

The following are easy-to-follow tips on how to prevent a herniated disc:

  • Performing exercises that strengthen your trunk muscles can help stabilize your spine.
  • Prevent lifting heavy objects improperly by exposing your back.
  • Avoid using any tobacco products.
  • Maintaining a healthy BMI can lower the risk of a herniated disc.
  • Maintain a good posture by keeping your back straight, especially when sitting for long durations.

How Are Herniated Discs Treated?

At the Yancey Pain & Spine, our main objective is to utilize our innovative herniated disc treatment plan to alleviate your pain. Some of your treatment plans may include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Epidural steroid injections
  • Medication

If these minimally invasive techniques prove unsuccessful, then Dr. Yancey may refer you to a qualified surgeon.


Untreated herniated discs can lead to life-devastating health problems that can affect the normal functioning of your legs and arms. Dr. William Yancey, MD, an interventional pain specialist at Yancey Pain & Spine, has adapted the use of conservative techniques to treat ruptured discs. For more information about our services, visit any of our offices in Houston and The Woodlands, Texas, or schedule a consultation online.