Slipped disc symptoms and treatment options

Slipped disc symptoms are caused when a disc in the spinal column protrudes out or breaks open, potentially causing nerve compression. The term slipped disc is a general nonmedical term that may refer to a herniated disc, bulging disc or spondylolisthesis, a condition involving vertebral slippage.

Slipped disc symptoms can originate within any part of the spine — from the neck to the lower back — and symptoms also can radiate to other parts of the body. Very often symptoms develop from the lumbar region, or lower back, because that area of the spine supports a great amount of weight and endures repeated stress daily, making it more prone to disc collapse, bulging, herniation and other degeneration through the years.

Specific symptoms of a slipped disc

Symptoms of a slipped disc in the lower back include pain in the area of the herniated disc, as well as pain numbness, tingling, and weakness that radiates to the buttocks, legs, and feet. Similarly, a slipped disc in the neck, originating in the cervical spine, also can produce numbness, tingling, muscle weakness and pain, but these symptoms typically are experienced in the upper spine as well as the shoulders, arms and hands. Headaches are another possible symptom of a slipped or bulging disc in the neck.

In rare cases, patients may experience paralysis, bowel dysfunction or bladder dysfunction, which indicates a life-threatening medical emergency called cauda equina syndrome that must be treated immediately.

Diagnosing slipped disc symptoms

Slipped disc symptoms are similar to the symptoms of a number of other neck and back conditions, so in order to ensure the most successful slipped disc treatment, it’s important to get a proper diagnosis. Your doctor can diagnose your condition by conducting a physical examination and exploring your complete medical history. An X-ray, CT scan or MRI may be necessary in order to rule out other conditions.

An important part of the diagnostic process is the question and answer session during the initial visit. While family medical history is an important factor in determining the cause of back pain and other slipped disc symptoms, one of the most vital pieces of data you can supply your doctor is information about the symptoms themselves. For instance:

  • When did they first occur?
  • What physical activity might have triggered them?
  • Are there any physical actions, such as leaning forward over a shopping cart or lifting a heavy object, that seem to exacerbate or reduce the pain?
  • How would you gauge the severity of the symptoms?

These and other questions can help your doctor pinpoint the precise cause of your issues. The more you can tell your doctor about your condition, the more helpful it is.

Treating slipped disc symptoms

In a large number of cases, slipped disc symptoms are treatable using conservative therapies such as stretching, exercise, lifestyle changes, ice and heat applications, corticosteroid injections and anti-inflammatory drugs. For patients who experience severe, limiting pain or symptoms that continue to worsen even after several weeks or months of conservative treatment, slipped disc surgery may be recommended.

Minimally invasive spine surgery can provide lasting relief for patients dealing with a slipped disc — such as the outpatient procedures provided at Laser Spine Institute. Our minimally invasive procedures can treat a range of spine conditions using muscle-sparing techniques and offering a shorter recovery time^ compared to traditional open spine surgery. To learn how Laser Spine Institute’s outpatient procedures can help you find relief from neck and back pain, contact us today.

Our caring and dedicated team can help you receive a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you may be a candidate for one of our procedures.