Treating a herniated disc

Herniated discs are one of the most common injuries among young athletes. Some herniated discs cause more pain than others. Most people are unfamiliar with exactly how they are treated.

We turned to John C. Liu, MD, from the USC Spine Center at Keck Medicine of USC to get a better understanding of what kind of symptoms and treatment options are available for a herniated disc.

What is a herniated disc?

A herniated disc is when part of the spine pushes on a nerve, Dr. Liu explained. Often times, this can cause tremendous amounts of leg pain, numbness, tingling and sometimes, weakness.

A herniated disc usually occurs in the lumbar spine, also known as the lower back, but can occur in other areas of the spine.

How is it treated?

At the USC Spine Center of Keck Medicine of USC, Dr. Liu and his colleagues use a team approach for initial treatment. This can include oral medications, physical therapy and potentially steroid injections.

If this process isn’t successful, they move on to the next phase, which may include a minimally invasive spine operation. This procedure can be very effective in the recovery process for anyone with a herniated disc.

A minimally invasive spine operation involves a small incision, usually about 18mm in length. Once the herniated disc is found, the doctors take the pressure away from the nerve.


• The process only takes 90 minutes
• It may relieve leg symptoms
• Recovery typically takes about 6-12 weeks

If you are experiencing leg pain, schedule an appointment with your local physician for an examination. You may be diagnosed with a herniated disc.

If you suffer from a spine injury, make an appointment with a spine specialist. To learn more about USC Spine Center, visit

To schedule an appointment, call (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or visit