A slipped disc, more correctly referred to as a bulging or herniated disc, can cause a number of painful and uncomfortable symptoms throughout the back, neck, and extremities. The area or areas of the body affected by symptoms depends on the location within the spine of the damaged or deteriorating disc.
For instance, a slipped disc occurring in the lumbar (lower back) region of the spine can cause pain, tingling, and numbness that radiates from the back to the buttocks, hips, legs, and feet. The lumbar region bears the most weight of any other part of the spine, so that area is where slipped discs most frequently occur. On the other hand, a person with a herniated disc in the cervical spine, or neck region, may feel slipped disc symptoms in the neck, shoulders, arms, and hands.
Slipped Disc – No Actual Slippage Occurs
The term “slipped disc” does not mean the disc has shifted or fallen out of place in any way. Rather, it refers to a disc that has split or ruptured, or whose layered, cartilaginous outer wall has been forced out of its normal boundary. That’s why slipped discs are more properly called bulging discs, herniated discs, ruptured discs, or torn discs.
Slipped discs can occur naturally as intervertebral discs deteriorate with age, or they can be a result of an injury from improper lifting or poor body mechanics. The aging process is by far the most prominent factor in the development of a ruptured disc. It begins with a gradual reduction in water content within the gel-like nucleus of the disc. Concurrently, the disc’s outer wall begins to become brittle and weak. As the disc loses elasticity, it still must endure everyday pressures from vertebrae above and below, but the weakened disc is unable to hold its shape. This stress can reduce the height of the disc, or force the outer wall past its normal boundary. The stress also can create small fissures within the wall, which may develop into ruptures and permit the extrusion of nucleus material.
Rarely does a sudden trauma, such as a fall or automobile accident, cause a herniated disc. However, people who suffer traumatic spine injuries as children or teenagers are more likely to develop disc problems later in life.
Slipped Disc Risk Factors
Certain activities put you at greater risk of suffering a slipped disc. Smoking and carrying excess body weight can increase your chances of disc damage. Also, people with physically demanding jobs that require repetitive lifting, bending, and twisting, or prolonged sitting and standing in the same position, may be at greater risk. There also is a hereditary element to the development of a slipped disc. If your parents or grandparents suffered from degenerative spine conditions that led to bulging or herniated discs, there is a greater chance that you could develop those conditions, as well.
If you have been diagnosed with a slipped disc, your doctor will likely prescribe conservative treatments such as rest, pain medication, or activity modification. Most people start to experience improved symptoms in just a few months of slipped disc treatment. However, for those patients with severe, limiting pain that continues even after treatment, slipped disc surgery may be advised. Laser Spine Institute provides minimally invasive, laser-assisted procedures that are tremendously successful at alleviating the symptoms of a slipped disc, and with a much quicker recovery time than traditional open back surgery. For more information or to receive a complimentary MRI or CT scan review, contact LSI today.