What is spinal hernia?

A bulge in the intervertebral disc

Spinal disc herniation is a bulge in an intervertebral disc. This bulge presses on a sciatic nerve, thus causing pain in a patient’s leg, which may or may not be accompanied by symptoms of neuropathy (numbness or loss of strength).

Normal person

Normal person

Patient suffering from spinal hernia

Patient suffering from spinal hernia

Hernia operations are among the procedures most frequently carried out by neurosurgeons. Out of nearly 11,000 hernia operations performed in the Netherlands each year, over 9,000 are carried out by neurosurgeons.

The cause of backache is unclear

What happens even more often is that neurosurgeons will see patients suffering from backache. In many cases, it will be unclear at first whether a patient’s backache is caused by a hernia. Doctors used to assume that this was the case. However, these days, it is generally believed that degeneration of an intervertebral disc may contribute to the onset of backache.

Some hernias do not present with pain symptoms. A hernia typically presents with pain radiating down one leg, since the hernia causing the pain is generally to one side of the spine. However, hernias do occur in the middle of the spine, which may cause pain radiating down both legs.

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