Herniated Disc Symptoms vs. Spinal Stenosis Symptoms

Meta description: Wondering about what herniated disc symptoms look like? This article explains...


Herniated discs are one of the most common spine conditions, affecting many Americans at some point in their lives. When herniated discs cause symptoms, it is because they cause spinal stenosis, a condition in which the spinal canal is narrower than usual. Below, we will take a look at what symptoms herniated discs can cause, as well as how the condition can be treated.

Herniated Discs vs Spinal Stenosis

There is a spinal disc between each of the vertebrae in the spine. The discs have the function of absorbing shock and facilitating movement. Each disc is composed of a firmer outer layer and a gel-like inner portion. When the outer layer ruptures and allows the inner portion to bulge out of its normal boundaries, it is known as a herniated disc. 

Herniated discs can narrow the space that the spinal cord occupies, known as the spinal canal, causing it to press against nerve roots or the spinal cord. When the spinal canal is smaller than usual, it is called spinal stenosis. Herniated discs are one possible cause of spinal stenosis, but many other conditions can cause it. 

Herniated discs most commonly occur in the lower spine, also known as the lumbar spine. However, they can also occur in the neck or upper back. When herniated discs occur in the back, they have the highest potential to cause serious symptoms.

Herniated Disc Symptoms

The exact nature of herniated disc symptoms depends on the location of the disc and the severity of the herniation. In some cases, no symptoms occur, and the patient will be unaware of the condition unless it is detected on an imaging exam performed for other reasons. In other cases, the symptoms can be severe, even debilitating. Possible symptoms include:

  • Numbness or tingling in the arms or legs
  • Back pain
  • Pain in the arms or legs
  • Muscle weakness in the arms or legs

If you have symptoms of numbness or tingling or muscle weakness, you should visit a physician promptly.


Because the symptoms of herniated discs can be similar to the symptoms of other conditions, the doctor will need to perform diagnostic tests to confirm the cause of your symptoms. This will include a physical examination, as well as a CT scan or MRI. Based on the results of these tests and the severity of your symptoms, the doctor can make a diagnosis and recommend a course of treatment.

Dr. Sukdeb Datta would be happy to meet with you about your herniated disc symptoms. To schedule your consultation today, please click below and enter your information or call the Datta Endoscopic Back Surgery & Pain Center at (347) 380-9138.


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