A herniated disc, sometimes known as a slipped or ruptured disc, refers to a problem with one or more of the soft cushions (discs) between the individual bones (vertebrae) that make up your spine. A spinal disc is a little like a jelly donut, with a softer, gel-like center (nucleus) encased within a tougher exterior (anulus). 

A herniated disc occurs when some of the softer disc tissue pushes out (herniates) through a weakness in the tougher exterior. If the disc herniation is large enough, the disc tissue can press on the nerves that exit the spine near the disc herniation. This can result in shooting pain (sciatica), numbness or weakness in one or both legs and sometimes back pain.

If a course of nonsurgical treatments (physical therapy, muscle-relaxant medications, pain medication, anti-inflammation medications etc.) is not effective for relieving pain from a herniated disc, your doctor may recommend surgery.