Unlike its name suggests, a slipped disc does not involve any slippage. Each disc in the spinal column is securely positioned between two vertebrae and remains there—even through spinal trauma, and even through the spinal degeneration that frequently occurs along with the natural aging process.
So, what is a slipped disc, then? This term is often used informally to describe two similar spine conditions: a bulging disc and a herniated disc. In both conditions, the soft center of a disc (nucleus pulposus) extends beyond its natural boundary, a firm outer shell known as the annulus fibrosus. If a disc’s nucleus pulposus protrudes outward but its annulus fibrosus remains intact, this type of slipped disc is referred to as a bulging disc. On the other hand, if the disc’s annulus fibrosus tears or ruptures, some of its nuclear material may escape through the breach and seep into the spinal canal. This type of slipped disc is known as a herniated disc.
What Causes a Slipped Disc & Why Is It a Problem?
Slipped disc injuries can occur in several ways. For instance, a sudden blow to the spine can damage a disc, as can the gradual effects of micro-trauma caused by repetitive motion. Because the spine supports most of the body’s weight, even daily activities like standing, walking, bending, and lifting can take a significant toll over time. Additionally, the discs become more susceptible to damage with age, as they naturally lose water content and become dry and brittle.
A slipped disc does not always cause symptoms or require treatment. If symptoms occur, they can vary based on the location and severity of the condition and whether it is pressuring the spinal cord or a nerve root. Common symptoms include localized and radiating pain, numbness, tingling, and muscular weakness.
What Can Be Done About A Slipped Disc?
The first step toward finding symptom relief is seeking an accurate diagnosis. The spine specialists at Premier Bone & Joint Centers in Torrington, Wyoming, evaluate and treat a variety of painful spine conditions, including bulging and herniated discs. While slipped disc treatment can vary, many of our patients find effective relief with conservative measures, such as physical therapy, medications, and ice applications. And for those who ultimately elect surgery, our board-certified, fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeons skillfully perform the latest minimally invasive surgical techniques.
If you have questions or would like to talk with a spine specialist in Torrington, WY, contact Premier Bone & Joint Centers to request an appointment.