Herniated Disc vs Muscle Strain

Herniated Disc vs Muscle Strain: Identify Key Differences

Are you suffering from back pain for a prolonged period of time? If so, are you confused whether you have a herniated disc or a muscle strain?

The symptoms of these two instances are so similar that people often mix them up. While a muscle strain may seem common and simple, a herniated disc is much more severe and deserves immediate attention. So, it is important to detect which issue it is immediately.

This article consists of all the information you need to know about both of these neuro-skeletal issues. Lastly, a comparison of herniated disc vs muscle strain is also given. To know more, read now!

What Is a Herniated Disc?

Let us begin with herniated discs. So, what exactly happens when someone suffers from a herniated disc?

A herniated disc is a medical condition in which the annulus (exterior portion) of the rubberlike disks or pads between the spinal cord becomes so weak that it causes the nucleus (interior portion) to reveal itself.

Herniated Disc

Due to the protuberance of nucleus from the inside, a distance or rift is created between the vertebrae. This distance hampers normal spinal movement and causes acute pain.

Causes of Herniated Disc

There are several causes behind the formation of a herniated disc. Even other than these causes, this problem may occur due to uncontrolled abnormalities in your body. Some of the common causes are listed below –

Causes of Herniated Disc


When your body parts, especially neuro-skeletal parts such as neck, back, head etc. are strained to a certain degree, it can result in the formation of a herniated disc.


Due to old age, the materials of the spinal disc begin to degenerate naturally. At this stage, any slight strain may cause cracking of a disc.


Harmful habits like smoking and drinking can also cause this distortion. This happens mainly because these activities inhibit the supply of oxygen in the body. Obesity is another cause under this point.


Sportsmen are often the victim of herniated discs. Other than that, heavy weight lifting, blow on sensitive areas etc. also cause such injuries. Be sure to do the exercises for herniated disc.

Hereditary Cause

Family members of different generations may often suffer from ruptured discs. However, this is a rare case.

Symptoms of Herniated Disc

The symptoms of herniated disc include the following points –

Symptoms of Herniated Disc


When slipped disc occurs, sometimes a certain side of the body becomes paralysed or numb.

Body Pain

This is a common symptom. Your body may ache due to distortion, and the pain may even spread to your legs.


Fatigue of the body is common at times. However, during rupture of a disc, you will have muscle fatigue.


Sensations common to tingling are also termed as symptoms for herniated discs.

What Is a Muscle Strain?

Muscle strain, also known as pulled muscle, is a phenomenon in which the tendons (tissues that connect bones to muscles) become excessively stretched or torn. Sometimes, the muscle itself gets torn or overstretched.

Muscle Strain

Here, two factors are at play – stretching of muscle fibres or tissues, and tearing of them. It is to be noted that although the occurrence is of tearing, it is referred to as muscle strain.

Causes of Muscle Strain

Muscle strain is a very common phenomenon. It may occur anywhere, any time. Here are some common factors that are likely to trigger muscle straining –

Causes of Muscle Strain


The more inflexible your body is, the more prone you are to muscle strain. Muscle movement is rather swift in flexible bodies.


Fatigue is another common reason of muscle pulling. The muscles of a strong body are more likely to be coordinated than those of a weak body.

Physical Activity

Unsupervised physical activity can also result in muscle strain, especially if you are not very experienced.

Symptoms of Muscle Strain

The symptoms of muscle straining are pretty much the same for everybody. Some irregularities may appear, but they are rare. Here are some general symptoms –

Symptoms of Muscle Strain


Straining of muscle causes exterior pain, especially in the area of pulling.


Swelling occurs in the muscles of the concerned area after a strain.

Restricted Movement

If you face muscle strain, you won’t be able to move naturally. Excessive movement may result in increase of the pain and deterioration of the condition.

Herniated Disc vs Muscle Strain – Comparison

Although these two are very different in terms of causes and effects, they may seem similar. So how can you tell if it’s a herniated disc or a muscle strain? By observing the symptoms and diagnosing carefully.

Usually when a herniated disc occurs, it responds to anti-inflammatory drugs and tice. The condition gets worse if exposed to heat. This is a way of detecting it.

Herniated disc occurs in the spinal system only. So, the pain is mostly likely to be felt only there. Muscle strains, on the other hand, can occur in any part of the body.

Muscle Strain

Again, a herniated disc is much more severe in nature compared to a muscle strain. Muscle strain is also very common, whereas herniated disc is not. This is why herniated disc is more long term, because its treatments are still not well developed due to its rarity.

However, muscle strains can be treated easily. You can even diagnose and treat them yourself. In case of herniated discs, seek professional help.

While treating herniated discs, you have to consider many things – nutrition, activities, relaxation, diet, and mattress for herniated disc as well. Mattresses should be considered because a bad mattress can worsen the condition of a patient.

With muscle straining, if treatment is done primarily, there are no repercussions, and the process is smooth.

Value Your Health

This was everything about herniated discs and muscle strains. If you have been suffering from similar symptoms or pain for a considerable period of time, please try to figure it out and call a licensed professional if needed.

Health truly is the greatest wealth you have. Take care of it. Also, let us know your opinion on this herniated disc vs muscle strain guide.

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