It is not possible to feel a herniated disc with your hand. The intervertebral disc is much too far forward in your body for it to push that far out to feel it. 

If this were the case, this would mean that you could poke your spinal cord with your finger, which also isn’t possible… and would be very bad if you could. 

You similarly cannot feel a bulging disc with your hand. 

feel herniated disc with hand?

Key Takeaways

  • You can’t feel a herniated disc through the skin.

  • A herniated disc is often felt with a pop and then produces pain, and other symptoms down the glute, thigh, and sometimes into the lower leg

  • Pressing on the location where there is a herniation may or may not produce more pain

  • A chiropractor or any other healthcare provider cannot feel a herniated disc through the skin

  • A strained muscle is located in a specific location while a disc herniation often produces sciatica and symptoms down to the glute, thigh, and calf.

  • Yes, you can have disc herniations and not even know it. 

  • L4 L5 and S5-S1 disc bulges are not serious. Make sure to watch symptoms and make decisions based on that, not what it looks like on the imaging. 

Can you feel a herniated disc through the skin?

No, you cannot feel a herniated disc through the skin. 

The intervertebral disc actually sits in front of your spinal cord, more towards your abdomen versus behind. 

Even with a posterior disc herniation, it’s not possible to feel this through the skin as the distance between the disc and the skin is too far. 

Read this article if you’re curious whether massage can make a herniated disc worse or not.

How do I check myself for a herniated disc?

Often times people will feel a pop when they experience an acute disc herniation. This popping may be a result of the tearing of the annulis fibrosis. Numbness and tingling symptoms, as well as pain can often onset over the course of a few days. 

Herniated discs usually present with numbness, tingling, pain, and sometimes weakness in a defined pattern. 

L5/S1 herniations typically result in symptoms down the back of the leg, while L4/L5 herniations are generally along the side or front of the leg. 

L3/L4 and L2/L3 herniations produce symptoms down the front of the thigh.

Does a herniated disc hurt when you push on it?

While you can’t push on the disc itself because you can’t reach it with your hands, placing pressure over the affected area can cause more discomfort. 

Some people will feel some relief when adding pressure to this affected area as well. 

Can a chiropractor feel a herniated disc?

No, a chiropractor cannot feel a herniated disc. No healthcare professional is able to feel a disc herniation because there are too many other structures in the way to block us from feeling it. 

How do you tell the difference between a pulled muscle and a herniated disc?

A pulled muscle is usually present in only one area and rarely radiates.


A disc herniation generally radiates down to the glute, thigh, and even foot, depending on the severity. 

It’s important to note that you can have radiculopathy or pain down the leg without a disc herniation, so this is not always the cause. 

Disc herniations are only one cause of sciatica and radiculopathy. 

How long does it take for a herniated disc to resorb?

Based on this study:

“In conclusion, the majority of patients who received conservative integrative Korean medicine treatment indicated a disc resorption volume of nearly 50% within a 1-year average, and the long-term course at 4.3 years was also favorable. IDH amount and type were identified as predictive factors associated with disc resorption and this information should be factored into prognosis and informed decision-making in treatment selection as most patients were unaware of the fact that disc resorption may occur spontaneously.”

A case study on a 25 year old man;

“We report a case of a 25-year-old man who presented with a 2-month history of pain and soreness owing to lumbar disc herniation. He was managed conservatively, and his presenting symptoms and scoliosis gradually decreased over approximately 5 months. Two years later, he returned unexpectedly and was advised to undergo magnetic resonance imaging, which revealed regression of the disc herniation; the patient also confirmed that the pain had not recurred. After 8 months, he underwent repeat magnetic resonance imaging, and the findings pertaining to disc herniation were normal. “

Can you have a disc herniation and no pain?

This article says yes.

“No patients demonstrated residual disc on postoperative MRI. By 2 years after discectomy, 25 (23.1%) patients had demonstrated radiographic evidence of recurrent disc herniation at the level of prior discectomy on serial imaging (mean ± SD, 11.8 ± 8.3 months after surgery). Radiographic disc herniation was asymptomatic in 14 (13%) patients and symptomatic in 11 (10.2%) patients. The occurrence of symptomatic recurrent disc herniation was associated with worse 2-year leg pain (VAS-LP, P=0.002) and disability (ODI, P=0.036) but not quality of life (SF-36) or disc height loss. The occurrence of asymptomatic reherniation was not associated with disc height loss or any outcome measure (VAS, ODI, and SF-36) by 2 years.”

What about in different types of disc findings?

“The rate of spontaneous regression was found to be 96% for disc sequestration, 70% for disc extrusion, 41% for disc protrusion, and 13% for disc bulging. The rate of complete resolution of disc herniation was 43% for sequestrated discs and 15% for extruded discs.” **insert chou link”

If you have a disc herniation but no symptoms, does this mean you’re at a higher risk?

We don’t know this for certain, however, my short response to that question is no. 

I haven’t seen any scientific studies answering this question but I will look. 

The closest thing we know is that people who just have “more” findings on the MRI reports tend to have more symptoms, but this can’t really answer the question above. 

Is an L5-S1 disc bulge serious?

Disc bulges, protrusions, extrusions, herniations, and sequestrations should be treated based on what symptoms you are exhibiting. 

The image is less important than the symptoms you are having. 

In most cases, a disc bulge is not serious and rarely causes any symptoms. 

Is an L4 L5 disc bulge serious?

As discussed above, an L4/L5 disc bulge likely is not serious and is a very common phenomenon as we age. This is as normal as developing wrinkles on our skin.

There is rarely pain related to disc bulges. Even if there is pain that is produced by disc bulges, it is impossible for us to measure whether this is happening as it could be many different structures producing symptoms too.