How common is a herniated disc?

Herniated discs can occur in people of all ages. They are most common in people between 35 and 45 years old.1

Many people have a herniated disc in the back and are not aware of it because they have no symptoms of leg or back pain. But for some people, herniated discs do cause leg or back pain, or nerve-related problems.

Of people with low back or leg pain, 4% have nerve-related problems triggered by a herniated disc.2 Other nerve-related problems include spinal stenosis, fractures, and infections.

Herniated discs are common in people whose occupations require sitting at desks or driving motor vehicles for long periods of time.


  1. Hu SS, et al. (2006). Lumbar disc herniation section of Disorders, diseases, and injuries of the spine. In HB Skinner, ed., Current Diagnosis and Treatment in Orthopedics, 4th ed., pp. 246–249. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  2. Deyo RA, Weinstein JN (2001). Low back pain. New England Journal of Medicine, 344(5): 363–370.

Last Updated: July 21, 2008

Author: Shannon Erstad, MBA/MPH

Medical Review: William M. Green, MD - Emergency Medicine & Robert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics

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