Your spine consists of many connected bones called “vertebrae”. Discs are all the connective tissues that stand as cushions between the vertebrae.
Slipped or herniated disc is a condition where the intervertebral disc has protruded (herniated) into the spinal canal.
Doing this, the disc causes a lot of pressure on the spinal cord and that causes pain and numbness.
To put it simplified, a disc is considered to be herniated when the soft gel from inside the disk breaks out of the covering.
When this gel presses the spinal nerves, we feel pain. This is a common condition that may vary in severity.
Where can slipped disc occur?
Over 80% of all herniated discs happen in the lower back. This is because the lower back has to carry most of our weight and it is under a lot of pressure.
Plus, the lower back is the most mobile part of our spine and it is the most exposed. When we bend, stretch and twist, our lower back is more involved than any other part of the spine.
Who can have slipped disc?
No one is immune to this condition. However, studies have shown that the condition of a slipped disc is most common in people from 30 to 50 years old.
This is because somewhere between these ages, the outer covering becomes weaker and the cartilage starts to lose its elasticity. That’s why the risk of slipped disc happening in these ages is bigger.
What causes slipped disc?
The disc may be herniated from some kind of a sudden or traumatic injury, but it can also slip as a result of more minor and small injuries.
When this is the case, you might not know the exact reason. Maybe you’ve had this condition for a while, but you haven’t noticed until the pain showed up.
Even the smallest and the most harmless body motion can be a reason for your slipped disc. A simple bending to pick up something from the ground can also be a cause for a slipped disc.
Also, if you have had a bad posture throughout your whole life, or if you have been lifting weight in an improper way, then there are bigger chances to get the slipped disc.
What are the symptoms of a slipped disc?
We have already said that slipped discs can happen mostly in the lower back region. This is why the most common symptom of a slipped disc is SCIATICA.
Sciatica is a condition that causes sharp pain that goes from the buttocks and all the way down the leg.
Apart from sciatica, there are also other important and annoying symptoms that people with slipped disc experience:
- A feeling of weakness in one leg or another.
- A sensation of tingling like needles in the leg or buttock.
- Numbness in legs or buttocks.
- Losing bladder control.
- Losing bowel control.
- A sensation of burning pain in the back.
- Neck pain, if the slipped disc is in that upper area.
- Weakness in the arm.
- Tingling in the arm.
- A sensation of burning pain in the arm, shoulder or neck, etc.
Treatment of slipped disc
If the condition of slipped (herniated) disc is in its first stage (acute condition), the first thing you will need to do is to rest that affected area.
This way, you will reduce the inflammation of the spinal nerves. Some anti-inflammatory medications can also be a good thing. They will reduce the pain and the inflammation of nerves.
When the pain is slightly reduced, you will have to focus on reducing the symptoms of stiffness in the joints and muscles.
Some physiotherapy techniques can help you with improving the mobility of your spine and back. You can also start doing some exercises to improve the condition.
Ask a professional to give you instructions for some exercises. Apart from medications and physiotherapy, there are also some steroid injections that can help you remove the pain from the pressured nerve.
If all of these above methods do not help you, the last option is to have surgery done. Depending on your condition, there are many types of different surgeries for a slipped disc that can be performed.
Some of the surgeries available for the slipped disc are decompression surgeries, such as microdiscectomy, endoscopic discectomy, micro-decompression; and decompression surgeries with fusion.
After surgery, you should continue to take care of the affected pain area in order to remain pain-free and prevent slipped disc to happen again.