Dee Why Chiropractor Treatments

Intervertebral disc herniation

Intervertebral disc herniation (disc herniation) is a collective term used to describe the displacement of disc material beyond where the intervertebral disc is typically meant to sit. The intervertebral disc is designed to sit in the intervertebral space. The intervertebral space is formed by the vertebral bones above and below (endplates) and the ring apophysis around the edges of the disc. The ring apophysis is where the outer layers of the disc (annulus) are joined to the vertebral bones above and below (traces around the edge of the disc). A herniation may complicate other pre-existing abnormalities such as degenerative vertebrae changes and fractures. Herniations are subcategorised as either a protrusion or extrusion.

Some important notes on disc herniations:

  • The term disc herniation does not imply a cause, symptoms, prognosis or even need for treatment. Disc herniations may or may not be painful.
  • MRIs often cannot display the internal architecture of the intervertebral disc (annulus). This means that fissures (tears) may not be visualised.
  • A herniation doesn’t have to go out; it can go up and down. An intervertebral disc herniation that goes up or down through the joining vertebral bone is called a Schmorl’s node.


Disc herniation may or may not be painful and produce symptoms. Although, back and neck pain is common with disc herniation. This pain is typically made worse with postures that place more pressure on the discs, such as looking down in the neck and sitting in the low back. If the herniation is large enough, it may move into the spinal cord or compress spinal nerves, and this can cause neck or back pain that travels into the arms or legs.


Chiropractic and physiotherapy treatment will depend on the nature, location and severity of the disc herniation. Complicating factors such as muscle weakness from spinal nerve compression must be monitored closely. Treatment plans are individualised to each person. Please contact one our the Sydney Spine & Sports Centre (S3C) Balmain chiropractors or physiotherapists for more information.

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