What is Slipped Disc?

It is well to review the structure of your spinal column to describe what a slipped disc is. Your spinal column consists of 26 bones (collectively vertebrae), each one cushioned by discs. These discs protect the bones by absorbing the shocks coming from daily activities and movements such as walking, running, lifting and twisting.  Each disc has inner and outer parts. The inner part is soft and gelatinous while the outer ring is tough.


Slipped disc or herniated disc occurs when the inner portion in the vertebral bone protrudes through the outer ring. This condition is frequently the result of injury or weakness. This condition causes pain and discomfort to the affected person. The slipped disc may compress one of the spiral nerves, causing numbness and pain in the nerve area affected. Treatment for slipped disc may be costly and complicated.


Causes of Slipped Disc


A slipped disc may occur when the outer ring becomes weak and tears, allowing the inner portion to slip and protrude out. The ring weakens and deteriorates with aging. Slipped disc may also be caused by physical activities like turning or twisting while lifting a very heavy object. Frequent carrying of heavy objects not only strains the lower back but poses real risk of suffering from slipped disc.


Being overweight or obese may cause slipped disc. The heavy body weight your lower back supports are borne by the discs as well. Sedentary lifestyle is another cause of slipped disc as it contributes to the weakening of the bones and muscles.


People most susceptible to slipped disc are those in the 35 to 45 age group. Your discs around this age begin to lose some of the protective water content, and which will continue as you age. They can slip more easily out of place as a result. Slipped disc is more common among men than women.


Effects of Slipped Disc


When slipped disc is left untreated, it may deteriorate and cause permanent damage to the nerve. In extreme cases, a slipped disc may cut off nerve impulses to certain nerves in your leg and lower back. When this happens, you may lose bladder or bowel control.


Saddle anesthesia, a long-term complication in slipped disc conditions may compress nerves that can cause sensory loss in the back of your legs, inner thighs and around your rectum.


Symptoms of Slipped Disc


The following symptoms are common to people with slipped disc, though the pain level they experience may vary:


Pain and numbness, tingling or burning sensation especially common on one side of the body

Pain extending to your arms or legs or both

Pain that becomes more intense after standing or sitting

Muscle weakness with no known cause

Pain that grows more intense at night


While some symptoms may improve, they can also worsen, which should tell you to immediately seek medical help.


There are several techniques doctors use to determine the presence of slipped disc condition. After thorough clinical examination and check of your medical history, the doctor may use at least one of the following diagnostic methods: X-rays, CT scans, MRI scans or discograms.


Options available for the treatment of slipped discs include medications, surgery, physical therapy and chiropractic treatment.


Slipped disc should be avoided as the consequences are serious and far-reaching.