A slipped disc is an injury on the spine that occurs when a disc tears and releases a gel like fluid. Also called a herniated disc or a prolapsed disc, this leakage causes back pain and other body aches more so when the leakage reaches the sciatic nerve. This nerve extends from the spine down to the pelvic area and all the way to the feet. Therefore, the slightest pressure caused by a bulged disc is felt all over the body .
In actual sense, a slipped disc doesn’t slip. Instead, it herniates especially on the lower back also known as the lumbar spine. This problem affects any disc, and the size of the rupture varies. However, this problem is not common as most of the back pain injuries are caused by other factors other than a bulging disc.
What is a Bulging Disc- the Causes
The spinal cord, which has the nerves, is housed within the vertebrae. The 24 vertebrae bones that make up the spine sit on discs. These discs are made of a gel. When a disc’s outer cover tears, it spills the gel . There are several causes of this problem such
Bending in an awkward way
Bad posture when lifting objects
Sitting for a long time
A fall or accident
There is no definitive cause of a bulging disc, but age is one of the causative factors. The outer cover of the disc weakens, and due to lose of water content, the disc becomes rigid and this increases the chances of a tear. In addition, activities such as weight lifting and other extreme sports put pressure on the discs.
Symptoms of slipped disc
Slipped disc symptoms vary. It depends on the affected part and the scope of the injury. If the rupture has only affected the disc, you may experience a slight ache. On the other hand, if the bulging disc has put pressure on the sciatic nerve, back pain may combine with leg and thigh pain. This condition causes a differet kind of pain, one that continous for a long time on the affected part. It differs from the sharp, on and off pain experienced in other conditons .
Slipped disc in back can also cause
Problems with reflexes
Slip disc symptoms also include cauda equine syndrome dues to too much pressure on the nerves at the bottom of the spinal cord. This condition is serious and it needs immediate treatment. You may also complain of low back pain. In addition, you may lose control of bowel movements, feel numb around the rectal opening and your legs may be weak . This syndrome also causes lower back pain and your thighs may ache on the inside if the herniated disc affects other nerves, apart from the sciatic nerve. You may also experience urinary incontinence, muscle spasm and paralysis of muscles .
Bulging Disc Diagnosis
The doctor will conduct a physical examination to check your muscle strength, irregular sensitivity of the limbs, your motion and reflexes. Diagnosis is quite difficult because some people do not experience any symptoms while others have a number of problems that must be evaluated to figure out whether back pain is coming from a herniated disc or another problem .
If there is need to dispel any other disease, the doctor may use an X-ray or MRI scan . Back pain can also arise from a tumor, infection or arthritis so there is need to rule these diseases out .
Treatment for Slipped Disc
A slipped disc needs immediate attention because an injury to the spinal cord can be fatal. With so much pressure exerted on the spinal cord, it is only a matter of time before irreversible damage occurs .
Whether you have a slipped disc in neck or a bulging disc in the lumbar spine, you need medical assistance. A slipped disc in lower back heals in a month or a month and a half. It shrinks back into place and the pressure on the nerve stops. For this, you may need slipped disc exercises, pain relievers, muscle relaxants, corticosteroids, codeine and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine. Other herniated disc treatment methods are physiotherapy, osteopathy and chiropractic .
Incorporate some exercises into your daily schedule. Do not rest the whole day. Instead, be active as much as your present condition allows .
The doctor may propose surgery after other treatments fail, or when the nerves are severely compressed. Additionally, if the condition is affecting posture, motion, bowel movements or you have a severe case of muscle paralysis, a surgical procedure is the way out. The surgery for a slipped disc is known as discectomy and it involves cutting the section that is bulging out. There are several ways of doing this such as the open discectomy, prosthetic intervertebral disc replacement and endoscopic laser discectomy .
Overall, exercises can prevent a slipped disc because they harden the discs and strength muscles .