Make An Appointment
Book Appointment Online with select physicians.
Request Appointment Online to schedule with one of our coordinators.
1.888.IUHEALTH for
Same-Day Primary Care Appointments.
If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 9-1-1.

Disc Herniation & Disc Disease

There are 33 bones called vertebrae that make up your spine. Soft, well-padded, and hydrated discs sit between each vertebra and act like cushions. Pain and complications can arise when discs are injured or damaged as part of the normal aging process. As you age, discs dry out and begin to weaken, becoming more susceptible to injury. Discs can move out of place, bulge, rupture and leak fluid or even break apart.

There are two types of common disc disorders:

  • Disc herniation
  • Disc disease

Disc Herniation  

When a disc changes shape or pushes into the spinal canal it is called disc herniation. This can cause lower back pain and spinal stenosis. A herniated disc can put pressure on or pinch nearby nerves and is most common in the cervical (neck) and lumbar (lower) spine.

The most common cause of disc herniation is normal wear and tear. Daily activities over time wear out the shock-absorbing discs. Other causes of disc herniation include:

  •  Injury, such as trauma from a car accident
  •  Repetitive movements
  •  Being overweight
  • Improper lifting

When a disc herniates you may experience:

  • Neck pain
  •  Low back pain
  •  Weakness in your arms and legs
  •  Radiating pain in your arms and legs
  • Numbness in your arms and legs
  • Muscle tightness and spasms in your neck or back

Disc Disease  

Disc disease is a degenerative condition that gradually takes place over the course of one’s lifetime. As you grow older, the discs in your spine can become brittle and weak. Disc disease is a normal part of the aging process. Thousands of people with degenerative disc disease do not experience back pain.

When disc disease does become noticeable, it often involves the cervical spine or the lower part of the spine. Most people experience disc disease to varying degrees at different ages.

To reduce your risks of disc disease, you should:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Exercise
  • Stop smoking

Symptoms of disc disease are similar to those of disc herniation. Disc disease also includes changes in how pain is experienced. You may feel:

  •  Less pain when being active
  •  Less pain when you lie down
  • More pain when remaining in the same position for a long time

Physicians can use a variety of imaging tests to diagnose herniated discs and disc disease. Treatment is offered to relieve pain and other symptoms.

Disc herniation and disc disease are conditions that sometimes do not cause discomfort. Other times, the pain from these disorders can be debilitating. We use advanced therapies to monitor your disease even when no symptoms are present. If you are in pain, our neurosurgeons can repair your discs to reduce the impact on your spinal nerves so you can be pain free and return to work and other activities.

At Indiana University Health, we use the latest techniques to diagnose and treat disc herniation and disc disease. Our team of specialists at the Indiana University Health Neuroscience Center collaborate with experts in physical therapy and pain management to reduce your pain so that you can maintain or return to your everyday activities.

At the IU Health Neuroscience Center, we continue to test and innovate new surgical devices and techniques to deliver the best possible outcomes for our patients. Through our affiliation with the Indiana University School of Medicine Department of Neurology and the neurosurgeons at Goodman Campbell Brain and Spine, we continue to study and compare the benefits of minimally invasive and open spine surgery.

Our participation in the National Neurosurgery Quality and Outcomes Database (N2QOD) gives our neurosurgeons access to comprehensive information about spine surgery outcomes. We use this data to determine the best care plan and deliver the highest quality standards for treating disc herniation.

How We Can Help

How We Can Help

Disc Herniation & Disc Disease Treatment Information

Treatment for disc herniation and disc disease is designed to reduce the pain and pressure on your spine. Therapies can range from simple to complex. The services we provide include:

Disc Herniation & Disc Disease Locations & Physicians

Use the search options below to find treatments available in your area.

Find a Specialist

Enter a Zip Code to find a specialist at IU Health.

Disc Herniation & Disc Disease Support Services

Learn more about disc herniation & disc disease treatments at these websites: