Herniated Disc (Slipped) Disc – Symptoms, Causes, Prevention and Treatments
Your backbone/spinal column is made up of a series of vertebral bones stacked onto each other. Counting from top to bottom, the column has seven bones in the cervical area, 12 in the thoracic area, and five in the lumbar area followed by the sacrum and the coccyx bone at the base. These bones are separated and cushioned by vertebral discs. The discs not only support vertebral bones, but also protect them by absorbing shocks from routine activities like walking, twisting, and lifting.
Each disc is further divided into two parts: a tough outer ring and a soft, gelatinous inner portion. Weakness or injury can cause the gelatinous portion of the disc to bulge through the outer ring. This condition is known as a herniated, slipped, or prolapsed disc. This leads to classic signs and symptoms of the condition. In severe instances, you may require surgical intervention to repair or remove the slipped disc.
No matter what the underlying cause, herniated disc has the following signs and symptoms.
Symptoms of Herniated Discs
Research studies and clinical trials where the routine back and neck scans have been done on a large number of patients have shown that some individuals have a slipped disc without any apparent symptoms. It is thought that classic symptoms mainly occur if the herniation irritates or puts pressure on a nerve. This does not happen in all cases. Some disc herniations may be small, or develop away from the nerve roots and cause no or minor symptoms.
The pain in the back is often severe and usually comes on suddenly. It is usually eased by lying still and is often aggravated by movements of your back, or with coughing or sneezing.
The intensity of the back pain depends on the extent of a herniated disc, i.e., bigger the herniation, more will be the pain.
One sign may be the location of the pain. Although pain can develop in any part of your spine, herniated disks most commonly occur in the lumbar spine (lower part of your backbone), just above your hips. This pain can also radiate from your back to your buttocks, thighs, calves, to even your ankles.