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Some people who have a slipped disc experience no obvious symptoms. This is usually because the part of the disc that bulges out is only small or may not be pressing on the nerves or spinal cord.
However, most people who have a slipped disc will experience pain. The pain often begins in the lower back before sometimes spreading to other parts of the body.


With most slipped discs, pain is caused when part of the disc begins to press on one of the nerves that run along the spine. The sciatic nerve is the most commonly affected nerve.
The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body and is made up of several smaller nerves. It runs from the back of the pelvis, through the buttocks and all the way down both legs, ending at the feet.

If you have pressure on the sciatic nerve, it can cause:

  • A lasting, aching pain
  • Numbness
  • A tingling sensation in one or both of your legs

These symptoms often start in the lower back and travel down the buttocks, into either of the legs.

Other nerves

If the slipped disc presses on any of the other nerves that run down your spinal cord, your symptoms may include:

  •  Muscle paralysis (weakness)
  •  Muscle spasms, when your muscles contract tightly and painfully
  •  Loss of bladder control

Muscle spasms and paralysis tend to occur in your arms, legs and buttocks. The pain that you experience when a disc presses on a nerve is often worse when you put pressure on the nerve. This can happen when you:

  • cough
  • sneeze
  • sit down

Fortunately, the vast majority of herniated discs improve without surgery
If troubled by back pain or unsure about anything in this article please get in touch with David Jenkins