Slipped Disc Types Categorized by Location
When categorizing the types of slipped discs according to their location in the spine, the three main spinal sections to discuss are the cervical (neck), thoracic (upper body) and lumbar (lower back) regions. Intervertebral discs in these areas don’t actually “slip” out of place the way the name slipped disc implies, but the cushion-like discs can swell or bulge beyond their normal boundaries. Discs also can develop a tear in their outer wall and leak an inflammatory inner fluid called nucleus pulposus onto the spinal cord or a nearby nerve root. When bulging or herniated disc material presses against a nerve, the contact can limit the nerve’s ability to transmit signals between the brain and the parts of the body the nerve serves, sending sensations of pain, weakness, numbness and tingling radiating down the nerve pathway.
Slipped cervical discs
Ruptured or bulging cervical discs threaten to compress the nerve roots that serve the head, neck, shoulders, arms and hands. Because these nerves exit the spinal column through the small openings on the sides of the cervical vertebrae, even a slightly protruded or herniated cervical disc can irritate one of the nerve roots in this compact environment. Patients seek treatment for herniated cervical discs more often than they do for any other slipped disc types, except for herniated discs in the lumbar region.
Slipped thoracic discs
Connected to the rib cage, the thoracic spine enjoys greater support and bends less than other parts of the spine, and this stability minimizes the risk of damage to the thoracic intervertebral discs. Compared to the more common types of slipped discs, such as herniated cervical and lumbar discs, thoracic discs present problems for relatively few patients.
Slipped lumbar discs
Because the lumbar spine bears substantial weight and bends in many different directions, lumbar discs herniate far more often than any other types of discs in the spine. A ruptured lumbar disc can cause lower back pain where the tear occurs, as well as cause symptoms in the lower parts of the body that the lumbar nerves serve. For instance, compression of the sciatic nerve, which starts in the lower back and branches into the pelvic region before it splits and travels down both legs, can send pain and numbness radiating down a leg.
If you suffer from any of these slipped disc types, contact Laser Spine Institute today to learn about how our minimally invasive treatments can help relieve the unpleasant symptoms you may be experiencing.