Slipped disc symptoms and treatment

If you believe a slipped disc is the underlying cause of your neck pain, back pain and other symptoms, learning more about the specific symptoms and treatments can be helpful. A slipped disc is a nonmedical term that often refers to conditions like a herniated disc, where the interior of a spinal disc pushes out through a tear in the outer shell. This condition is usually caused by aging and degenerative changes to the discs that cause them to lose elasticity. Other contributors include traumatic injury, tobacco use, posture and being overweight or obese.

While not always painful, a slipped disc can cause symptoms if displaced disc material leads to compression of spinal nerves. It’s important to identify slipped disc symptoms so you can consult a doctor who can diagnose your condition and prescribe a treatment plan that works for you.

Recognizing the symptoms of a slipped disc

Slipped disc symptoms can manifest differently in each patient, which can make the process of recognizing slipped disc symptoms and identifying the best course of treatment more difficult. While one person may feel numbness or tingling in their arm or hand, another may experience sharp pain radiating down their leg. Other common symptoms of a slipped disc can include muscle weakness, muscle spasms or a loss of reflexes.

Slipped discs also can produce localized pain and inflammation at the source and all symptoms will vary greatly based on the area of the spine where the slipped disc has occurred:

  • A slipped disc in the cervical (upper) spine that compresses a nerve root can potentially affect the head, neck, shoulders, upper back and arms. A slipped disc in the neck area that compresses the spinal cord can lead to leg weakness, balance problems and difficulty walking.
  • While relatively rare, a slipped disc in the thoracic (middle) part of the spine causes symptoms in the chest, abdomen and middle back.
  • A slipped disc in the lumbar (lower) spine can cause symptoms in the lower back, hips, buttocks and legs and feet.

Slipped disc treatment

Once a doctor has positively diagnosed the source of symptoms, it will be necessary to develop a treatment plan. In almost all cases, conservative treatments should be attempted before discussing surgery. Commonly recommended options include over-the-counter pain and anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, hot and cold compresses on the affected area and epidural steroid injections. Additionally, lifestyle changes like weight management, posture improvement and quitting smoking may also be beneficial for symptoms and spine health.

If you’ve thoroughly explored conservative options without finding the relief you need from slipped disc symptoms, it may be necessary to consider surgery. At Laser Spine Institute we perform minimally invasive spine surgery that is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck or back procedures^ and offers many advantages to our patients.

Reach out to our caring and dedicated team today and receive a no-cost review of your MRI or CT scan* to help you determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.