Are you experiencing back or neck pain and wondering if you have a slipped disc? Slipped discs go by many names - herniated disc, protruding disc, ruptured disc, and bulging disc.
Disc herniations occur when degeneration changes the fibrous outer shell of a disc. The disc begins to weaken, tear and break, which releases the disc's fluid into the spinal canal. This commonly happens in the spine's lower lumbar and cervical area.
Signs you may have a slipped disc:
- Numbness or tingling. People who have a slipped disk can experience radiating numbness or tingling in the body part served by the affected nerves.
- Weakness. Muscles affected by the nerves tend to weaken. This weakening can cause you to stumble, drag your foot when walking or affect your ability to lift or hold items.
- Arm or leg pain. If you have a slipped disk in your lower back, you'll typically feel the most pain in your buttock, down the side of your thigh and calf, and could travel to your foot. If your herniated disk is in your neck, you'll typically feel the pain in your shoulder and down your arm to your hand. The pain can be described as debilitating, burning, tingling, or sharp and shooting.
If you think you have a slipped disc, do not worry. Discs can heal. Many treatment options are available. Rest, ice and heat, physical therapy, cortisone injections, and medications can help.
Slipped discs that cause debilitating pain and symptoms after six weeks may require surgical attention. Seek medical treatment immediately if experiencing bladder or bowel dysfunction.
Slipped discs are most often the result of gradual, aging-related wear and tear. The prevention of a slipped disc includes exercise, good posture, body mechanics, maintaining a healthy weight, and quitting smoking.
Dr. Payam Moazzaz is a board-certified, fellowship-trained spine surgeon with over a decade of experience treating complex spinal disorders in San Diego, California.