Symptoms of a Herniated Disk

The symptoms of a herniated disk vary depending on where the disk has ruptured, the size of the rupture and what nerve root it is pushing on. If no nerve is impacted, you may just experience back pain, or even no pain. If the herniated disk is impacting a nerve, however, you may experience these symptoms:

Intermittent or continuous back pain that may be made worse by movement, coughing, sneezing or sitting/standing for long periods of time.

  • Spasm of the back muscles
  • Muscle weakness in the legs
  • Numbness in the leg or foot
  • Decreased reflexes at the knee or ankle
  • Changes in bladder or bowel function

Sciatica is pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve that runs down the legs from the lower back or buttock. Caused by a herniated disk in the lower back, it can create a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Pain (usually sharp)
  • Burning
  • Tingling
  • Numbness or weakness in the leg

If you have a herniated disk in your neck, you may experience:

  • Dull or sharp pain in your neck between your shoulder blades
  • Radiating pain traveling down your arm to your hands or fingers
  • Weakness or numbness in your arms or shoulders
  • Changes in sensation

Certain positions may make your pain worse.

The symptoms of disk disease may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.