Dear Wondering About Words,
A herniation can happen in many places in the body (think of an abdominal hernia). It occurs when a body part moves into the wrong spot by pushing through an abnormal opening (like a tear). A disc herniation relates to your intervertebral discs—the small cushions in between the bones of your back. With a disc herniation, a part of the disc pushes through a tear in the disc's outer covering (the annulus fibrosus).
In some people, these disc changes happen silently, and in other people, they provoke back pain. If these same changes irritate spinal nerves (which live next door to intervertebral discs), people may also experience discomfort that travels into their arms or legs.
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