Intervertebral discs are natural shock absorbers between the boney vertebrae. Discs have two main components, an outer fibro-elastic containment rim and an inner soft gelatinous core. When axial loading pressure occurs along the spinal column, the central gelatinous core of the disc squeezes outward against the fibro-elastic containment rim of the disc. The elastic recoil of the containment wall pushes the gelatinous core back into position, reestablishing the height and shape of the disc. As a person ages, natural daily activity causes repeated loading of the disc. Tiny tears may develop in the fibers of the fibro-elastic outer containment wall. This causes some loss of the disc’s outer containment wall elasticity or recoil. The outer disc containment wall can no longer push the central core material back into shape as effectively. The outer containment wall sags, and is said to bulge or collapse. If a tear in the disc’s containment wall is sufficiently large, the central core material may extrude into the area outside of the containment rim giving a herniated disc. The term slipped disc is not a recognized medical term and therefore has no exact meaning. Usually the term slipped disc refers to a herniated disc.
Presentation & Symptoms of a Slipped DiscA slipped disc, or more correctly, herniated disc, may generate no symptoms at all. Only if extruded disc tissue impinges on a nerve in the spinal column are symptoms present. When symptomatic, symptoms may include:
Slipped disc symptoms can include the following:
- Localized or radiating pain
- A “pins-and-needles” sensation
- Reduction in general mobility
Typical treatment begins conservatively with rest and physiotherapy, combined with pain medication and steroid injections. If conservative treatment methods fail to produce satisfactory reduction in symptoms, a more aggressive surgical treatment may be warranted. To avoid unnecessary risk and destruction of normal tissue, the least invasive efficacious surgical treatment possible should be utilized.
Laser Spine Institute (LSI) offers minimally invasive, endoscopic procedures that allow direct visualization of the exact area of disc damage. Small specialized instruments are then used to remove the disc material pressing on spinal nerves. Contact us today for a complimentary review of your MRI or CT scan, and to determine if our procedures are applicable to your specific condition.