What Does a Slipped Disc Feel Like?

What Does a Slipped Disc Feel Like

Back pain of any cause can be debilitating. But if you are trying to decide what the possible causes are, you may be wondering, “What does a slipped disc feel like?” It can be worrisome to have pain that’s keeping you from living your life normally. Here’s what you need to know about slipped discs so you can decide what to do next.

What is a Vertebral Disc?

Your spine is made up of a series of bones called vertebrae, and between each of these bones are soft, cushion-like discs that act as shock absorbers. Sometimes, these discs can get damaged and pushed out of place. Doctors often refer to it as a herniated disc, but you might also hear it called:

  • A slipped disc
  • A bulging disc
  • A ruptured disc

These different terms all describe the same problem and can cause similar symptoms and concerns.

What Does a Slipped Disc Feel Like?

A slipped disc can cause a variety of symptoms, which can range from mild to severe, including:

Localized pain. Pain in the back or neck is common, particularly around the area of the herniation​. This pain can be sharp, burning, or aching.

Radiating pain. This type of pain, called radiculopathy (or sciatica when it involves the lower back), occurs because the bulging disc presses on nearby nerves. This pain can travel along the nerve path, often described as shooting pain down the leg or arm​.

Numbness and tingling. When nerves become compressed, it can affect the normal sensory signals in the body. These sensations can occur in the parts of the body related to the affected nerves, such as the shoulders, arms, hands, buttocks, legs, or feet​.

Weakness. The muscles served by the compressed nerves can weaken, making it difficult to perform certain tasks or movements. This might result in difficulty lifting objects, walking, or even holding items.

Pain worsens with movement. Activities like bending, lifting, coughing, and sneezing can increase pressure on the affected disc and worsen the pain.

How Does a Slipped Disc Happen?

Slipped discs can develop for several reasons:

  • As you age, the discs in your spine lose water content and elasticity, making them more prone to damage. This natural degeneration is one of the most common causes of slipped discs​.
  • Trauma from accidents or falls can cause a disc to herniate. Even minor injuries, if they occur repeatedly, can contribute to disc degeneration and herniation​.
  • Frequent bending, lifting, or twisting can put stress on the spine and lead to repetitive strain and disc herniation.
  • Genetic factors can influence the structure and durability of the discs​ in the spine.
  • Sitting for prolonged periods or leading a sedentary lifestyle can increase the risk.
  • Poor posture can place additional stress on the spine, leading to disc problems.
  • Excess body weight adds stress to the spinal discs.
  • Smoking reduces the oxygen supply to the discs, which can accelerate degeneration.

Can A Slipped Disc Be Treated?

Various treatment options can be considered depending on the cause and severity of a slipped disc. These include:

Non-Surgical Treatments

Physical therapy. Exercises to strengthen your spine and improve flexibility.
Medications. Pain relievers like ibuprofen or stronger prescriptions for severe pain.
Injections. Corticosteroid shots to reduce inflammation and pain.
Lifestyle changes. Healthy weight, good posture, and low-impact exercises like walking or yoga.

Surgical Treatments

Microdiscectomy. Removes the disc portion pressing on a nerve.
Laminectomy. Removes part of the vertebra to relieve nerve pressure.
Artificial disc replacement. Replaces the damaged disc to maintain natural spine motion.

When to See a Doctor

If you suspect you have a slipped disc or are experiencing symptoms like back pain, radiating pain, numbness, or weakness, it is crucial to seek medical attention. Early diagnosis and treatment can help manage the symptoms and prevent further complications.

Take the first step towards relief and recovery – schedule an appointment today!

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