What is Slipped Disc?
Our spinal column or backbone or vertebral column consists of a series of bones called as vertebrae stacked onto each other from top to bottom. Between each vertebra is a disc which is made of strong rubber-like tissue which allows the spine to be flexible. These discs work as a shock absorber while doing daily activities like walking, lifting, and twisting. These discs separate the vertebrae and keep them from rubbing together with each other.
Each disk is made up of inner soft, gelatinous part and tough outer ring. In Slipped Disc condition some injury or weakness causes the inner soft portion of disc protrude or bulge out (herniates) through a weak portion of outer part of the ring. This bulged portion of the disc may exert pressure on the spinal nerve nearby, thus causing severe back pain and discomfort along with the numbness. After some time inflammation also develops around the affected part of the disc.
Any disc in vertebral Column or spine can slip . The vast majority of disc injuries occur in the lower back (the lumbar spine). Only 10% of these injuries affect the upper part of the spine. The size of the disc bulge can vary. Larger the bulge, the more severe will be the pain.
However, it is possible to have slipped disc without any apparent symptoms of pain or discomfort as not all slipped discs press on the nerves.
Note that in slipped disc condition a disc does not actually slip rather it just protrudes or bulges out.
Slipped disc is also known as a herniated or prolapsed disk.
How should I know that I am suffering from Slipped Disc?
You can diagnose yourself for Slipped Disc considering following symptoms-
Sudden and severe back pain. Such pain triggers by slight back movement during coughing or sneezing. Along with the back pain one can experience pain in arm, leg and foot as well. Pain may worsen after standing or sitting or walking short distances.
The sciatic nerve travels deep inside the buttock and down the back of the leg. This is the major nerve that gets affected by slipped disc causing pain, down the leg to the calf or foot. This condition is commonly known as sciatica.
Besides the pain, numbness is also felt most commonly on one side of the body especially in leg, hand and neck region .
In other sensory symptoms like pins and needles, numbness or weakness or reduced sensation of touch or uncomfortable tingling, aching and burning in affected region can be experienced
Unexplained muscle weakness, muscle spasms or overactive reflexes are also indications of slipped disc
Problems with bowel and bladder function.Patient can get difficulty or inability to pass the urine & loss of urination and defecation sensation. Typically known as Cauda Equina syndrome.
What causes Slipped Disc?
Slipped discs are most common in men and women between 30 and 50 years old. Men are more prone to it than women. People who exercise regularly are much less likely to suffer by slipped disc than who don’t exercise.
Following are the major causes of slipped disc
Lifting heavy objects in wrong way or improper stretching or twisting
Job demanding lots of physical activity
A work involving lots of sitting like driving, IT profession
Injury to the back
Weight lifting, wrong or excessive exercise
Overweight individuals (obesity)
Increasing age as the disc weakens with increasing age
Lifestyle without exercise i.e. sedentary lifestyle
How is Slipped Disc treated?
By doing proper MRI doctor can diagnose slipped disc problem.
The treatment on slipped disc typically depends on the level of pain discomfort and how far the disk has slipped out of place.
Following are the treatments doctors recommend based on the nature of a problem.
A physiotherapist may recommend exercises that can strengthen the back while reducing the pain. It is very important to remain active in back pain than taking rest.
Also, patients are advised to avoid doing anything that causes a lot of stretching and pain.
Sleeping in most comfortable position on the most comfortable surface
WIINS has highly equipped and computerized physiotherapy section to treat slipped disc patients which is unique in Maharashtra.
Regular doses of painkillers along with muscle relaxants and nerve pain medications are prescribed
If the symptoms of slipped disc do not subside or if patient develops weakness in legs or urinary symptoms, doctor may advise surgery, viz. Microdiscectomy or Endoscopic discectomy
In this surgery damaged or protruding portion of the disk is cut without removing the entire disk. In more severe cases, the disk may be replaced with an artificial one or removed completely and vertebrae are fused together.
Also using the highly advanced technology of Spine Navigation Technology spine surgeries are done at WIINS. This technology is used to repair displaced vertebrae using screws and plates with higher precision and reduced risk.