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Back Pain and Herniated Discs


Back PainTwenty-six bones called vertebrae comprise your spine and are cushioned by small, round discs between each vertebra. Herniated discs, also called slipped or ruptured discs, occur when a portion of the jellylike center of the disc bulges out into the spinal canal through a tear in its outer layer, putting pressure on nearby nerves.

Common symptoms of herniated discs include backache, severe pain, numbness or weakness in the area of the body to which a compressed nerve travels; sciatica if the herniated disc is in the lower back; or dull or sharp pain in the neck or between the shoulders if the herniated disc is in the neck.

Strain, injury, sudden movements, repetitive movements or degeneration of the spine as part of the aging process may cause the condition. Spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spaces between the vertebrae that results in pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots, may also increase your risk of developing a herniated disc. In these cases, there may even be a delay in diagnosis, due to the incorrect assumption that the pain is the result of an alternate pre-existing condition.

Join an interactive discussion with expert Michele Johnson, M.D., at noon CST on Wednesday, September 18th to learn about herniated discs, including effects on the body and available treatment options. Dr. Michele Johnson will also host a live Q&A session and will discuss surgical and non-surgical treatment options.


  • What causes herniated discs?
  • What factors increase risk of herniated discs?
  • What are the symptoms of herniated discs?
  • How are herniated discs diagnosed?
  • Can a herniated disc be prevented?
  • What are the treatment options?

About the Host

Dr. Michele Johnson

Michele Johnson, M.D.

  • Fellowship trained neurosurgeon with expertise in neurosurgical treatment of disorders of the spinal column and spinal cord
  • Serves as an assistant professor of neurosurgery at UTHealth Medical School at Houston and affiliated with Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center
  • Earned her medical degree with honors from Yale University School of Medicine
  • Has co-authored studies that have been published in Genetics, the Journal of Immunology, American Journal of Neuroradiology and Science