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Spiritual Meaning Of Herniated Disc

What does the back represent spiritually? The herniated disc has been an ongoing topic in the media. Everyone is talking about it and trying to figure out what herniated disc is. The best way to understand a term or condition such as this is to understand its meaning. Herniated disc doesn’t have just one definition and there are many factors that can contribute to it occurring. Check out the Spiritual meaning of herniated disc, and spine spiritual meaning.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, spinal discs are cushioning structures that separate the bones of your spine. The discs contain a jelly-like substance. As you age, the jelly in your discs may wear away and create a gap between the bones of your spine, causing a spinal disc herniation.

Herniated disc chakra

According to Naluai, “low back pain, at the lumbar spine area, has to do with genealogy.” Every lumbar spine vertebra has a distinct purpose. According to Naluai’s lineage teachings, pain should be taken into account at the level of each vertebra, as well as the ones above and below it, and at the point where the back and hips converge.

Your origins and your place on the earth are symbolised by the sacrum, the triangle bone at the base of your spine. The sacroiliac joints are where the spine and pelvis articulate. The ability to move towards options and directions, as well as drive and strength, are related to the pelvis. “It’s how we spend our time here,” Naluai says. “People with pain in the sacrum or pelvis are usually not grounded, not rooted energetically or spiritually.”

The lowest vertebrae is L5. It includes being flexible in your link to your Earthly time and articulates with your sacrum. According to Naluai’s teachings on lineage, “Genetic history and ancestral lineage play a major role.” How you move through life, whether or not your family or ancestors help you.”

Those who live somewhere they don’t feel like they belong can experience a tremendous deal of emotional distress. Not feeling “planted where you are supposed to be” is often linked to pain in this area. This could manifest as not feeling like you belong in your family, not feeling like your family understands you, or just not being able to locate your tribe—those who truly get you and are there for you no matter what.

Naturally, a herniated disc is an extremely painful and incapacitating ailment. It is sometimes referred to as a bulging disc, slipping disc, burst disc, and occasionally even pinched nerved root. To begin with, the individual experiencing this debilitating ailment must seek medical attention in order to alleviate their discomfort. Some people will even have surgery in an attempt to find relief. Surgery is rarely advised, though, as yoga therapy can accomplish the same goal without any surgery.

In your spine, the small fibrous cushions in between each vertebra are called discs. They prevent the bones from rubbing against one another and serve as shock absorbers between the vertebrae. A herniated disc compresses the nerve root when the semi-liquid core of the disc, known as the “nuclear pulposus,” pushes through a break in the elastic fibre covering that surrounds the disc. It often affects the lumbar vertebrae and can occur suddenly or gradually over weeks, months, or even years. The horrible sciatica, muscular spasms, loss of leg function, numbness and/or tingling in the legs and feet, and excruciating back pain are among the symptoms.

Numerous medical experts have stated that once the fluid has leaked out of the cushion, a herniated disc is an illness that is incurable. However, in Yoga Therapy, we think that the liquid that was pushed out can be partially or even completely reabsorbed by enhancing the flow of nourishment to the disc using yoga activities. As a result, the strain on the spinal cord and nerves will decrease.

Spiritual Meaning Of Herniated Disc

The spiritual meaning of herniated disc is that you are feeling the effects of your past actions in your present life. The pain and discomfort you feel should not be taken lightly. It may be a sign that some of the things you have done in the past are coming back to haunt you now.

If you have been carrying around guilt or shame, it is possible that there are people out there who are waiting for their chance to get even with you or hurt you. It is also possible that some of these negative feelings have been affecting your relationships with other people and causing problems in your current life.

The best way to deal with these feelings and their effects on your life is to face them head-on and transform them into something positive or useful. You will find that once they are dealt with, they no longer cause problems for you or anyone else around you.

Spine Spiritual Meaning

The spiritual meaning of a herniated disc is that you are feeling the pressure from your life situation, and you need to find a way to release it.

A herniated disc is an injury that happens when the soft tissue between the vertebrae in your spine becomes weakened or damaged. It can cause pain and discomfort in your back.

Spiritually, this means that you need to find a way to release the pressure of your situation. You may be feeling overwhelmed by work or family issues, or you may be dealing with some kind of trauma. You may also have a lot of emotional baggage from past experiences that are weighing on you heavily.

Whatever it is that is causing your stress, it’s important to find ways to cope with it so that it doesn’t affect your health in any way. Try exercising regularly—this will help relieve stress and keep your body relaxed so that it’s less likely to get worse than before!

Spiritual Meaning Of Herniated Disc

A herniated disc in the spine is a condition during which a nucleus pulposus is displaced from intervertebral space. It is a common cause of back pain. The patient’s who experience pain related to a herniated disc often remember an inciting event that caused their pain. Unlike mechanical back pain, herniated disc pain is often burning or stinging, and may radiate into the lower extremity. Furthermore, in more severe cases, there can be associated with weakness or sensation changes. In some instances, a herniated disc injury may compress the nerve or the spinal cord causing pain consistent with nerve compression or spinal cord dysfunction, also known as myelopathy.[1].

Herniated Disc’s:

  • Can be very painful.
  • Within a few weeks, most cases of painful disc herniation heal.
  • In many instances, the herniation of the disc does not cause that patient any pain.
  • Herniated discs are often seen on MRI of asymptomatic patients (MRI is the imaging modality of choice).
  • The management of disc herniation requires an interprofessional team. The initial treatment should be conservative, unless a patient has severe neurological compromise.
  • Surgery is usually the last resort as it does not always result in predictable results. Patients are often left with residual pain and neurological deficits, which are often worse after surgery.
  • Physical therapy is the key for most patients. The outcomes depend on many factors but those who particpate in regular exercise and maintain a healthy body weight have better outcomes than people who are sedentary[2].

Clinically Relevant Anatomy

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See Lumbar Anatomy for great detail

Intervertebral discs: Two adjacent vertebral bodies are linked by an intervertebral disc. Together with the corresponding facet joints, they form the ‘functional unit of Junghans’. The disc consists of an annulus fibrosus, a nucleus pulposus and two cartilaginous endplates. The distinction between annulus and nucleus can only be made in youth, because the consistency of the disc becomes more uniform in the elderly. For this reason, nuclear disc protrusions are rare after the age of 70. From a clinical point of view, it is important to consider the disc as one integrated unit, the normal function of which depends largely on the integrity of all the elements. That means that damage to one component will create adverse reactions in the others[4].

The disc contain an: Endplate; Annulus fibrosus; Nucleus pulposus


An intervertebral disc is composed of annulus fibrous which is a dense collagenous ring encircling the nucleus pulposus.

  • Disc herniation occurs when part or all the nucleus pulposus protrudes through the annulus fibrous. This herniation process begins from failure in the innermost annulus rings and progresses radially outward.
  • The damage to the annulus of the disc appears to be associated with fully flexing the spine for a repeated or prolonged period of time.
  • A herniation may develop suddenly, or gradually over weeks or months.
  • Causes
    • Most common cause of disc herniation the degenerative process (as humans age, the nucleus pulposus becomes less hydrated and weakens and may lead to progressive disc herniation).
    • The second most common cause of disc herniation is trauma.
    • Other causes include connective tissue disorders and congenital disorders such as short pedicles.
  • Disc herniation is:
    • Most common in the lumbar spine
    • Followed by the cervical spine. A high rate of disc herniation in the lumbar and cervical spine can be explained by an understanding of the biomechanical forces in the flexible part of the spine.
    • The thoracic spine has a lower rate of disc herniation
  • Repetitive mechanical activities like twisting, bending, without breaks can lead to disc damage.
  • Living a sedentary lifestyle, poor posture, obesity, tobacco abuse can also cause disc prolapse.


  • The disc consists of the annulus fibrosus (a complex series of fibrous rings) and the nucleus pulposus (a gelatinous core containing collagen fibers, elastin fibers and a hydrated gel). The vertebral canal is formed by the vertebral bodies, intervertebral discs and ligaments on the anterior wall and by the vertebral arches and ligaments on the lateral wall. The spinal cord lies in this vertebral canal.
  • The pathophysiology of herniated discs is believed to be a combination of the mechanical compression of the nerve by the bulging nucleus pulposus and the local increase in inflammatory chemokines.[2]
  • A tear can occur within the annulus fibrosus. The material of the nucleus pulposus can track through this tear and into the intervertebral or vertebral foramen to impinge neural structure[6].
  • The changes consists of nuclear degeneration, nuclear displacement and stage of fibrosis.

Types Of Herniations

  • Posterolateral Disc Herniation – Protrusion is usually posterolateral into vertebral canal. Protruded disc usually compresses next lower nerve as the nerve crosses the level of disc in its path to its foramen. (Example: protrusion of L5 usually affects S1)
  • Cental (posterior) Herniation – It is less frequent. A protruded disc above 2nd vertebra may compress the spinal cord itself or may lead to Cauda Equina Syndrome.
  • Lateral Disc Herniation – Nerve root compression happens above the level of herniation. L4 nerve root is most often involved.

Stages Of Herniation

There are four stages of herniated discs : Bulging; Protrusion; Extrusion; Sequestration (see image below)

Bulging: extension of the disc margin beyond the margins of the adjacent vertebral endplates
Protrusion: the posterior longitudinal ligament remains intact but the nucleus pulposus impinges on the anulus fibrosus
Extrusion: the nuclear material emerges through the annular fibers but the posterior longitudinal ligament remains intact
Sequestration: the nuclear material emerges through the annular fibers and the posterior longitudinal ligament is disrupted. A portion of the nucleus pulposus has protruded into the epidural space


  • The incidence of herniated disc is about 5 to 20 cases per 1000 adults annually and is most common in people in their third to the fifth decade of life, with a male to female ratio of 2:1.
  • In 95% of the lumbar disc herniation the L4-L5 and L5-S1 discs are affected.
  • Lumbar disc herniation occurs 15 times more than cervical disc herniation, and is an important cause of lower back pain.
  • The prevalence of a symptomatic herniated lumbar disc is about 1% to 3% with the highest prevalence among people aged 30 to 50 years, with a male to female ratio of 2:1.
  • In individuals aged 25 to 55 years, about 95% of herniated discs occur at the lower lumbar spine (L4/5 and L5/S1 level); disc herniation above this level is more common in people aged over 55 years.
  • It occur rarely in children, and are most common in young and middle-aged adults.
  • Recurrent lumbar disc herniation (rLDH) is a common complication following primary discectomy.
  • The cervical disc herniation is most affected 8% of the time and most often at level C5-C6 and C6-C7.

History And Examination

Cervical Spine


In the cervical spine, the C6-7 is the most common herniation disc that causes symptoms, mostly radiculopathy. History in these patients should include the chief complaint, the onset of symptoms, where the pain starts and radiates. History should include if there are any past treatments.

Physical Examination

On physical examination, particular attention should be given to weaknesses and sensory disturbances, and their myotome and dermatomal distribution.

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Typical findings of solitary nerve lesion due to compression by herniated disc in cervical spine

  • C5 Nerve – neck, shoulder, and scapula pain, lateral arm numbness, and weakness during shoulder abduction, external rotation, elbow flexion, and forearm supination. The reflexes affected are the biceps and brachioradialis.
  • C6 Nerve – neck, shoulder, scapula, and lateral arm, forearm, and hand pain, along with lateral forearm, thumb, and index finger numbness. Weakness during shoulder abduction, external rotation, elbow flexion, and forearm supination and pronation is common. The reflexes affected are the biceps and brachioradialis.
  • C7 Nerve – neck, shoulder, middle finger pain are common, along with the index, middle finger, and palm numbness. Weakness on the elbow and wrist are common, along with weakness during radial extension, forearm pronation, and wrist flexion may occur. The reflex affected is the triceps.
  • C8 Nerve – neck, shoulder, and medial forearm pain, with numbness on the medial forearm and medial hand. Weakness is common during finger extension, wrist (ulnar) extension, distal finger flexion, extension, abduction, and adduction, along with during distal thumb flexion. No reflexes are affected.
  • T1 Nerve – pain is common in the neck, medial arm, and forearm, whereas numbness is common on the anterior arm and medial forearm. Weakness can occur during thumb abduction, distal thumb flexion, and finger abduction and adduction. No reflexes are affected.[2]

Lumbar Spine


In the lumbar spine, herniated disc can present with symptoms including sensory and motor abnormalities limited to specific myotome. History in these patients should include chief complaints, the onset of symptoms, where the pain starts and radiates. History should include if there are any past treatments.

Physical Examination

A careful neurological examination can help in localizing the level of the compression. The sensory loss, weakness, pain location and reflex loss associated with the different level are described below

Typical findings of solitary nerve lesion due to compression by herniated disc in lumbar spine

  • L1 Nerve – pain and sensory loss are common in the inguinal region. Hip flexion weakness is rare, and no stretch reflex is affected.
  • L2-L3-L4 Nerves  – back pain radiating into the anterior thigh and medial lower leg; sensory loss to the anterior thigh and sometimes medial lower leg; hip flexion and adduction weakness, knee extension weakness; decreased patellar reflex.
  • L5 Nerve – back, radiating into buttock, lateral thigh, lateral calf and dorsum foot, great toe; sensory loss on the lateral calf, dorsum of the foot, web space between first and second toe; weakness on hip abduction, knee flexion, foot dorsiflexion, toe extension and flexion, foot inversion and eversion; decreased semitendinosus/semimembranosus reflex.
  • S1 Nerve – back, radiating into buttock, lateral or posterior thigh, posterior calf, lateral or plantar foot; sensory loss on posterior calf, lateral or plantar aspect of foot;  weakness on hip extension, knee flexion, plantar flexion of the foot; Achilles tendon; Medial buttock, perineal, and perianal region; weakness may be minimal, with urinary and fecal incontinence as well as sexual dysfunction.
  • S2-S4 Nerves – sacral or buttock pain radiating into the posterior aspect of the leg or the perineum; sensory deficit on the medial buttock, perineal, and perianal region; absent bulbocavernosus, anal wink reflex[2].
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Signs And Symptoms

  • Severe low back pain, radiating pain.
  • Walking can be painful and difficult.
  • Velsava Manuever.
  • Muscle spasm, tingling sensation, weakness or atrophy.
  • loss of bladder or bowel control.
  • Some people may be asymptomatic.
  • Slow and deliberate, tip-toe walking.
  • Spine, trunk deviation.
  • Antalgic or Trendelenburg gait.
  • Paraspinal muscle spasm.

What Does The Back Represent Spiritually

The spiritual meaning of a herniated disc is that it’s a sign from your body that you need to take a break and give yourself some space.

The energy of the body is very important, and when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, it can be hard to know how to get back into balance. The herniated disc is a sign from your body telling you that you need to slow down and take care of yourself.

It’s important to remember that our bodies are always talking to us—they’re just not always in their most eloquent form. So if you’re feeling pain in your back or neck, don’t ignore it! Instead, try taking some time for yourself: meditation, yoga classes, spending time with friends and family. These things can help bring your mind back into balance so that when the pain goes away, so does the stress that caused it!

Spiritual Meaning Of Spine Problems

Seeking and acknowledging the spiritual meaning of lower back pain can set you on a course for recovery.
Lower back pain can be debilitating. When this part of your body is in crisis, it creates a sense of desperation. Along with physical issues, many people only find relief when they tend to the emotional and spiritual meaning of lower back pain.

The lower back, including the lumbar spine and sacrum, is a storehouse for emotion. Unless you are exploring the deeper emotional and psychological roots of back pain, you are missing an opportunity to heal.

In the maze of treatments for chronic back pain, the spiritual meaning of lower back pain is one that is often overlooked. Jeana Naluai, Director of Ho’omana Spa on the island of Maui and kumu (teacher) of indigenous Hawaiian wisdom and practices, explains that back pain is the most common complaint from people who, “having tried everything else,” show up on her table desperate for relief.

The Sacrum and L5: The Spiritual Source of Lower Back Pain
“Low back pain, at the area of the lumbar spine,” explains Naluai, “has to do with genealogy. Each vertebra of the lumbar spine has a different focus.” In the lineage teachings Naluai received, it is important to consider pain at the level of each vertebra and the one above and below it and to consider where the back meets the hips as well.

The sacrum, that triangular bone that sits at the base of your spine, represents your roots and where you are on the planet. The spine articulates with the pelvis at the sacroiliac joints. The pelvis has to do with drive and power and the ability to move towards choices and directions. “It’s how we move through our time here,” explains Naluai. “People who are not grounded, not rooted energetically or spiritually, typically have pain in the sacrum or pelvis.”

L5 is the lowest vertebrae. It articulates with your sacrum and involves flexibility in your relationship to your time on Earth. In Naluai’s lineage teachings, “It has a lot to do with genetic history and ancestral lineage. How you walk forward in life with, or without, the support of family or ancestors.”

A great deal of emotional upset can occur for people who are living somewhere they don’t feel that they belong. Pain in this area is often associated with not feeling that you are “planted where you are supposed to be.” That might show up as not feeling that you belong in your family, that your family doesn’t relate to you on some level, or that you just can’t find your tribe, the people who understand and accept you on a deep level.

L4: Emotions, Acceptance, and Ancestral Support as a Spiritual Source of Lower Back Pain
Moving up the spine, L4 is the seat of emotion, especially grief. It’s also your center for creativity, how you hold joy with your family, community, and world around you.

For people who grew up with the belief that it was not okay to express strong emotion, specifically around loss and tragedy, pain will often show up here. Likewise, if celebrations were not honored, or there was not a true outlet for expressing joy and connection, this part of the lower back can cause problems.

L3 is about acceptance from our family. People who don’t feel accepted for their choice of a partner or for their sexual orientation may develop pain in this area of the low back. According to Naluai, pain here also represents “not having familial support towards the decisions that you make and how that lineage conversation affects your attitudes towards communities. It’s about interrelationships that can be from the past, present, and future in your understanding.”

L3: The Spiritual Meaning of Low Back Pain and Digesting Life Experience
L3 is about digestion on all levels: digesting beliefs, digesting choices. The spiritual roots of back pain here wrap around to the front side. Naluai explains, “If you were raised with a certain belief system that had been passed down for generations and then you veered off in your decision towards another system of beliefs, such as religion or career choice that created a break or separation with what your ancestors were doing or what are the rest of your family is doing, you might find a challenge in this area until you heal that break within yourself.”

“This part of the spine,” she says, “has to do with the digestion of these kinds of life choices. It is possible to heal the spiritual root of back pain in this area. There is a great deal of healing when they stand in their truth and power with regards to their own beliefs and choices. Sometimes that’s what ends up motivating a shift for the whole family. You can make a change with a choice for yourself that heals not just you, but something in your family line that needed to shift because that was a limited belief system or limiting pattern.”

[Read “Breaking the Cycle of Intergenerational Trauma.”]

L2: Finding Spiritual Stability and Flexibility in the Lower Back
L2 has to do with your physical capability to support yourself and how you flex backward and forward. This relates to movement within your work and your capacity to support yourself physically.

Naluai shares: “I notice that men end up having more issues with their lower back. I think that has to do with the role of men being the financial support for the family in a traditional sense, even though a lot of us are shifting outside of that traditional sense at this point.”

Naluai sees pain in this area in “men who start a family very quickly and don’t excel in the education that they wanted for themselves or in the direction that they wanted. Instead they had to hunker down and do what they need to do to support the family, and maybe weren’t able to follow their true dream.”

The top lumbar vertebra, L1, has to do with stability. Pain here is often associated with changes in financial, relationship, or career stability. Naluai says this is a result of one of the “foundational aspects of a person’s life being rocked.” It is connected to L2 and often involves having aspirations for what you want to do that are different from your family or ancestral obligations.

Healing the Spiritual Roots of Lower Back Pain
Many people show up on Naluai’s table after having tried a whole host of therapeutic and pharmaceutical remedies. Her first step is having a conversation about what was going on in the person’s life when the pain started.

She describes the process she witnesses of people who get stuck in chronic pain cycles: They go on medication to numb out because it’s too painful to explore sensitive issues with family. “These are often not easy conversations to have, especially when there are issues that are deeply rooted in your genealogy. People think they have to just live with it because it’s how it’s always been. But then, explains Naluai, “You realize that your dad had the same thing that your grandfather had that his grandfather had; that it’s been going on for generations. Ultimately it has to do with this one belief system that’s severely limiting.”

Naluai says: “What you find is that when you take care of the emotional roots or spiritual meaning of lower back pain, through practices like ho’oponopono, counseling, self-reflection or meditation or through some kind of ceremony of release, the pain will begin to ease. When you align spiritually and emotionally, the physical body falls back into alignment. You could go to 10,000 massage therapists and just barely scratch the surface if you’re not willing to look at the full picture.”

While looking at these types of ancestral wounds can be painful and difficult emotionally, ultimately it is by addressing the spiritual meaning of lower back pain that you can begin to find true relief.