Neurosurgery, Orthopaedic Surgery

Herniated Disc or Slipped Disc

Introduction to Herniated Disc or Slipped Disc

A herniated disc, or more commonly known as a slipped disc, is condition in the spine where a tear in the outer fibrous part of the spinal column allows the soft part of the spine to bulge out.

Written by Doctify Team 27/04/2020

What is a Herniated Disc?

A herniated disc, or more commonly known as a slipped disc, is condition in the spine where a tear in the outer fibrous part of the spinal column allows the soft part of the spine to bulge out. It is usually caused by age-related degeneration of the spine, but can also be caused through trauma or a lifting injury. As the soft part of the spine bulges out, it presses against the nerves in the spine and can cause severe and crippling back pain.

What causes a Herniated Disc?

The spinal column is made up of the spinal bones, the vertebrae, which are stacked on top of each other, with a jelly like substance between each vertebrae. Inside each vertebrae is a soft substance called the nucleus pulposus, which is surrounded by a fibrous layer. Through normal wear and tear, or an acute injury the fibrous layer can be broken and the nucleus pulposus is able to bulge out of the spinal column and press on the nerves in the spinal cord. Lifting heavy objects and playing contact sports are common causes of disc herniation.

What are the symptoms of a Herniated Disc?

The symptoms of a herniated disc will depend on where the injury is. They can range from little or no pain to agonising neck or lower back pain. The pain can also radiate to other parts of the body, such as the thighs, knees or even feet. You may also experience numbness, tingling, paralysis and muscle weakness in the arms or limbs due to the pressure on the nerves in the spine. General back pain may be a sign of wear and tear in the spine and may mean that you are at an increased risk of disc herniation.

How is a Herniated Disc treated?

Usually a disc herniation can be treated without surgery. Treatment normally includes pain relief, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, but you may require something stronger, such as co-codamol or a steroid injection. Good pain control will allow a physiotherapist to address any mechanical issues in your spine and teach you some exercises that will help strengthen your back. Anti-inflammatory medication can also help treat the inflammation caused from disc herniation. Sometimes if you are experiencing severe pain, an operation to remove the herniated disc will help to relive the pressure on the nerves.

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