Slipped (Herniated) Disc: Symptoms, Causes, and Effects of Treatment

Introduction: Herniated/Slipped Disc:

A herniated disc is a spinal injury (backbone). Your spine, which extends from the base of your skull to your tailbone, is made up of several bones called vertebrae. Round cushions between your vertebrae are known as discs. Your bones are protected from one another by the discs, which makes it simple for you to bend and move. A herniated disc is what happens when one of these discs ruptures or begins to leak. Another name for a herniated disc is a slipped, ruptured, or bulging disk. It’s one of the main reasons why people experience leg, back, and neck pain. Herniated discs typically recover on their own or with minimal at-home care.

Symptoms of Slipped Disc:

The symptoms of a herniated disc vary depending on where in the spine the issue lies.

Herniated lumbar disk-

A herniated disc in the lower back frequently results in “sciatic nerve” pain. Typically, a leg and occasionally a foot will feel the acute pain that originates on one side of your buttocks. The following are additional signs of a herniated disc in your lower back.

  • Legs or feet that tingle or are numb.
  • muscle sluggishness.
  • issues with your back bending or straightening.
  • If a disc is pushing on the sciatic nerve, it may cause discomfort in the legs, hips, or buttocks (sciatica).

Herniated cervical disk-

Neck herniated disc symptoms include the following.

  • discomfort between or close to your shoulder blades.
  • your shoulder, arm, and even your hand and fingers with pain.
  • neck discomfort, particularly in the back and sides.
  • Pain that gets worse when you bend or turn your neck.
  • tingling or numbness in your arms.

Risk Factors of Slipped Disc:

There are a number of things that can make a herniated disc more likely.

  • The discs in the lower back are put under more strain when a person is overweight.
  • Those who are in physically demanding occupations are more likely to experience back issues. Herniated disc risk can also be increased by repeated lifting, pushing, pulling, side bending, and twisting.
  • Herniated disc development is predisposed in some people by genetics.
  • Smoking is thought to reduce the oxygen supply to discs, hastening their decomposition.
  • People who have poor posture are more likely to get a herniated disc.
  • Driving frequently. The vibration from the motor vehicle engine paired with prolonged sitting might put pressure on the spine.
  • Being inactive. A herniated disc can be avoided with regular exercise.

Cause of Slipped Disc:

Wear and Tear on the Spine-

The regular wear and tear on the spine that causes a herniated disc are common. Another name for this is degeneration.
Our backs support and distribute our weight, and the intervertebral discs in our spine are designed to cushion movement impact (such as walking, twisting, and bending). Our discs put in a lot of effort to help us move so well, so over time they might get worn out.
The nucleus pulpous, the jelly-like inner layer, can push through the annulus fibrous, the tough outer layer of the disc, causing a bulging or herniated disc.


Injuries can potentially result in a herniated disc. For instance, a car accident can herniate a disc because the sudden, jerking movement can put too much pressure on the disc and result in a herniation.
Alternatively, lifting a heavy object incorrectly or twisting violently can herniate a disc.

Combination of Degeneration and Injury-

If you undergo a traumatic event, an intervertebral disc may have weakened due to wear and strain (degeneration), making it more likely to herniate.
Another possibility is that your disc has weakened to the point where even a seemingly untraumatic event can result in a herniated disc. When someone herniates a disc while sneezing, it is like this (it does happen!). The sudden force of a sneeze can herniate a disc if you already have a weak disc, even though it may not seem like a traumatic event that could cause harm.

Diagnosis of Herniated Disc:

The first step in diagnosing a herniated disc is almost always a thorough physical examination and review of medical history.
Your doctor will either examine your lower back, hips, legs, and feet, depending on where you are experiencing symptoms, or your neck, shoulder, arms, and hands.

Your doctor will check

  • For numbness or loss of feeling.
  • Your muscle reflexes may be slower or missing.
  • Your muscle strength may be weaker.
  • Your posture, or the way your spine curves.

Your doctor may also ask you to

  • You can walk, stand, or sit. Your physician might suggest that you try walking first on your heels and then your toes as you are moving around.
  • Bend your body sideways, backward, and forward.
  • Flex your neck in all directions, even sideways.
  • While performing these movements, raise your shoulders, elbow, wrist, and hand to assess your level of strength.

Your doctor may also suggest

  • electromyography (EMG) to pinpoint the precise nerve root that is affected as additional diagnostic procedures.
  • To evaluate the size and location of the disc herniation, do a myelogram.
  • Test of nerve conduction speed.
  • Where the herniated disc is pressing on the spinal canal can be seen on a spine MRI or spine CT.
  • Although a herniated disc cannot be detected by a spine x-ray alone, it can be ruled out by one in order to rule out other causes of back or neck pain.

Complications of a slipped disc

  • Permanent nerve damage might result from a significant slipped disc that is left untreated. A slipped disc may, in extremely rare circumstances, prevent nerve impulses from reaching the cauda equina nerves in your lower back and legs. You could lose control of your bowels or bladder if this happens.
  • The condition known as saddle anesthesia is another long-term consequence. Your inner thighs, the back of your legs, and the area around your rectum go numb as a result of the slipped disc compressing your nerves.
  • While a slipped disc’s symptoms may get better, they might also get worse. It’s time to contact your doctor if you are unable to engage in the activities you formerly enjoyed.

You Can Read Also – Normal Hand and Wrist Injuries While Playing Sports

Treatment of Slipped Disc:

Physiotherapy and medications-

Usually, rest, analgesics, and a slow return to activities help 60–70% of prolapsed discs heal on their own. As much as possible, carry on with your regular activities. There is an avoidance of painful activities. Additionally, find a comfy surface and position yourself to sleep in. Hard beds and pillows have also been discouraged from use. If you stay active when you have back pain rather than taking a lot of rest, you are more likely to recover more quickly and are less likely to develop persistent (chronic) back pain.

Painkillers are necessary to reduce discomfort. The preferable options include paracetamol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications like diclofenac or ibuprofen. Some people may not be able to take anti-inflammatory medications if they have asthma, high blood pressure, kidney failure, heart failure, or kidney failure. Some patients may benefit from using oral steroids.

Back exercises-

Exercises for your back are crucial if you have a prolapsed disc. Making the muscles that support your spine stronger, can help to reduce pain. What exercises are beneficial for your condition can be suggested by a physiotherapist.

Exercise not only lessens the pain associated with a prolapsed disc, but it may also lower the likelihood that it will happen again.

Epidural steroid injections-

Your back will receive an injection like this. A specialist carries it out. Both a local anesthetic and a steroid, a potent anti-inflammatory, are present in the injection. It is essentially a strong pain reliever that you can take for a long time.

Selective nerve root blocks (SNRB)-

An injection is administered here near the nerve roots. It is carried out in the operating room under fluoroscopic supervision. The medication is a combination of steroids and local anesthetics.

Daycare procedures include epidural steroid injection and selective nerve root blocks.

Surgery of Slipped Disc:

With nonsurgical treatment, disc herniation typically gets better. However, if a patient exhibits symptoms like this, the treating physician might advise surgery.

  • muscle weakness
  • pain that persists over time
  • mobility issues
  • problems with bladder or bowel control

The following surgical procedures are available for treating disc herniation:

  • Discectomy: A surgeon performs a discectomy when they remove all or part of a disc.
  • Nucleotomy: This procedure uses suction or laser excision to remove the disk’s soft center (nucleus).
  • Laminectomy: To make room for nerves, a surgeon may remove a portion of the vertebrae.
  • Spinal fusion: A surgeon may fuse two or more vertebrae together during a spinal fusion.
  • Disk replacement: Herniated discs are replaced with artificial implants during the disc replacement process.

Prevention of Slipped Disc:

Herniated discs cannot always be prevented. But there are different ways to lower your risk.

  • employing appropriate lifting methods. Keep your waist straight. Keep your back
  • straight while bending your knees. Make use of your powerful leg muscles to support the weight.
  • the upkeep of a healthy weight. The lower back is pressed by excess weight.
  • maintaining a straight spine. Learn how to stand, sit, walk, and sleep with better
  • The tension on your spine is reduced by good posture.
  • If you frequently sit for extended periods, it’s extremely crucial to take stretching breaks.
  • Avoid wearing heels on your feet. Your spine is thrown out of alignment when you wear these shoes.
  • doing regular exercise. To maintain your spine, emphasize exercises that will develop your back and abdominal muscles.
  • giving up smoking. Smoking can damage discs and increase the risk of disc rupture. Think about giving up smoking.

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