Hernia symptoms

The symptoms of a hernia, also known as hernia nuclei pulposi (HNP), are felt in the back and / or legs. The literal meaning of hernia is fracture. If there is a hernia, it means that the intervertebral disc is bulging out. This could cause great pain. 

Signs and symptoms of a hernia

Below is an overview of hernia symptoms and signs that may arise when the bulging of the intervertebral disc is pressing on the nerve root. The name of these symptoms are radicular symptoms, but the expression raducular is also common.

Sharp pain in the lower back

One of the most well known symptoms of a hernia is experiencing pain in the back. A hernia is not always associated with pain in the lower back. If there is lower back pain, it can be a sharp and a very unpleasant feeling.

Hernia pain lower back

Pain in legs

The pain of a herniated disc is always in one of the legs. Usually, this is on the side or rear of the leg and from the buttocks to the bottom of the leg. The pain may even be felt in the foot or toes. The pain may become amplified through certain movements caused by, for example: coughing, pushing (on the toilet) and lifting heavy things.

Feeling disorder

A symptom of a hernia is a feeling disorder. A feeling disorder can happen in the buttock, leg or foot. The skin feels differently. The skin may feel numb or irritated.

Loss of strength

Another symptom is loss of strength. This occurs in certain muscles, like your toe or ankle. Because of this muscles are harder to move.

What is a hernia?

A hernia is the bulging of the intervertebral disc, which presses against a nerve. The nerve becomes irritated and this will cause pain. The official name for a hernia is hernia nuclei pulposi (HNP). Intervertebral discs are discs between the movable vertebrae that absorb the shocks on the spine. They make sure the spine remains flexible. The intervertebral disc consists out of a gelatinous core surrounded by cartilage. Tough, yet very thin fibers connect the vertebrae and intervertebral discs in a very strong way with each other, so a strong structure is created. With a hernia, there is a bulge emerged at the core of such an intervertebral disc, which can lead to severe pain, because they are putting pressure on the nerve. Getting a hernia may have two causes. By suddenly turning, lifting in the wrong position, a shock, a fall or even through a heavy sneeze an acute hernia could occur.

Causes of a hernia

The cause of incurring a hernia may each be different for each person. There are two types of a hernia. The first type is an acute hernia. This type may suddenly be caused by:

  • Making an incorrect turning motion
  • Lifting the wrong way
  • Fall
  • Heavy sneezing

The second type of a hernia is wear, or degeneration. Below are some examples that may result in wear.

Wrong posture

Adopting a bad posture can lead to a hernia. Improper posture during lifting or sitting can cause the intervertebral disc to bulge.

Lifting the wrong way

An incorrect posture while lifting heavy objects can cause a hernia to incur. A wrong sit- or standing movement could cause too much pressure on the intervertebral disc, causing it to split.

Sitting in the wrong position

Another cause which may lead to a hernia, is sitting for a long period of time in the wrong position.This can also be caused by chairs that do not properly support your back.


People with obesity have a better chance to a hernia. This is because the back carries more load due to the excess weight. Besides the fact that obesity also entails many other medical problems, it is important to have a healthy weight.

Preventing a hernia

To prevent a hernia  it is wise not to burden the back in heavy physical work. For lifting objects, there are instructions to do this appropriately. Always make sure that the back is straight during lifting activities. Bend through the knees and keep the object to be lifted as close to the body as possible, after which you can stand straight again. Keep in mind to avoid twisting from the waist. When you have to sit a lot during the day, take brakes with stretching exercises. Use chairs that give adequate support to the lower back. 

Wrong posture hernia

An incorrect posture could lead to a hernia. To prevent a wrong posture it is possible to go into therapy for this. The therapy that is suitable for this is called cesar- or mensendieck therapy. Caesar therapy is a preventive therapy to prevent back symptoms. For this therapy you can be deferred to by a doctor. A hernia can also be prevented by watching your weight, because obese people have a higher risk to a hernia.

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