Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment of a Slipped Disc

A slipped disc, also known as a prolapsed disc, usually causes severe pain in the lower back area caused by pressure or pinching of a nerve along the spinal column. In most cases, slipped disc symptoms ease off gradually after several weeks. People who have the condition are typically advised to perform normal activities. Sometimes pain is mitigated with prescription drugs along with physical treatments like spinal manipulation. In symptom persistent cases surgery may be required.

What Happens When You Have a Slipped Disc?

When you have slipped disc, a part of the inner, softer part of the disc (usually the nucleus pulposus) bulges out (or herniates) through a weakness on the outer region of the disc. The bulging or herniated disc may press on the nearby structures like a nerve coming through the spinal cord. The irritation that ensues creates inflammation around the slipped part of the disc.

What Causes a Slipped Disc?

A prolapsed disc usually occurs as a result of the breakdown of connective tissue due to advancing age. This may lead to a weakness causing the soft part to be inflamed. Slipped discs are relatively rare in the chest part of the spine but typically affect the lower back. It is also possible that strenuous physical labor may increase an individual’s chances of having a slipped disc as well as trauma from an injury or accident.

What are the Symptoms of a Slipped Disc?

Back pain – The pain felt at the back is often severe and usually begins suddenly. The pain may subside when lying down flat. It often gets worse if the affected individual moves their back, coughs or sneezes.

Nerve root pain (sciatica) – Nerve root pain may occur because a nerve coming through the spinal cord is pressed, or trapped, by a slipped disc or is irritated by inflammation. Although the problem starts in the back, an affected individual may feel pain through the nerve in a leg to the foot or calf. The sciatic nerve is a large nerve made up of a group of smaller nerves that come through the spinal cord at the lower back. Each leg has a sciatic nerve.

Other nerve root symptoms – The pressure or irritation on the nerve near the spine can also cause a sensation of needles and pins, weakness, or numbness in a part of the buttock, foot, or leg. The exact location and the type of symptoms will depend solely on which of the nerves are affected.

How is a Slipped Disc Treated?

It is agreed generally that a slipped disc be treated without surgery, so Chiropractic and physiotherapy treatment options should be explored first. Surgery should only be considered when other treatment approaches have failed. The slipped disc treatment will mean a short period of bed-rest along with the appropriate pharmaceuticals for pain. Antidepressants may also be prescribed. Some of the common drugs used for slipped disc treatment include paracetamol, Ibuprofen, stronger analgesics, anti-inflammatory medicines, codeine phosphate, amitriptyline, duloxetine, tramadol hydrochloric drugs, gabapentin, and pregabalin.