Information for the public

The condition

The condition

The tough outer cover of a disc is called the annulus. It can sometimes tear, allowing the soft centre to bulge through. This is called herniation, also known as 'slipped disc'. If it presses on a nerve, the slipped disc can cause pain in the back, pain in the leg (sciatica), and numbness or weakness in the legs.

Treatments include painkillers, drugs to reduce inflammation, corticosteroid injections into the affected area, physical therapy and acupuncture. If these treatments don't work and the symptoms are severe or long lasting the disc may be removed, either by open surgery or using less invasive techniques. This is called discectomy.

NICE has looked at using percutaneous electrothermal treatment of the intervertebral disk annulus as another treatment option.

NHS Choices and NICE's information for the public about low back pain may be a good place to find out more.

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