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A herniated disc is a disc in the spine that has torn open due to constant or sudden pressure from the surrounding vertebrae. A ruptured disc is another name for a torn, herniated disc.
Most herniated discs heal themselves in about six weeks and do not require surgery. However, this can vary from person to person as the symptoms of a herniated disc can vary depending on its location and the soft tissue involved. You may feel mild to moderate pain if the disc is the only tissue injured.
If you suffer a major disc herniation, however, you can have severe, unrelenting neck or low back pain that radiates out to a limb. This happens because the herniated material irritates or impinges a nerve root. If the herniated disc is in your lumbar spine, you may experience sciatica because the nerve root of a sciatic nerve is involved. Sciatica is the most common symptom of a herniated disc in the lower back.