A slipped disc is an increasingly common problem and one that you, a friend, or a loved one may have dealt with first-hand. It can be a painful and debilitating condition for many - one that even has people going under the knife to try and resolve.
But did you know that a slipped or herniated disc is a condition that can be successfully treated and rehabilitated with our chiropractic care at Elite Spine?
Find out more about herniated discs and how our conservative treatment options help!
Is a Slipped Disc the same as a Herniated Disc?
The terms 'slipped disc’ and ‘herniated disc’ are often used interchangeably when discussing the causes of spine and back pain.
But what do they mean? Is there really a difference?
The simple answer is no.
Technically, the term ‘slipped disc’ is a misnomer, as the individual discs don’t actually bulge out. Instead, it usually refers to either a bulging or herniated disc. Nevertheless, all these terms (herniated disc, bulging disc, slipped disc etc.) are medically accepted and are frequently used to describe spinal disc pathology and associated pain.
The Spinal Structure When a Disc Bulges
First, let’s discuss briefly what makes up a spinal disc and what happens when it “slips.”
Spinal or intervertebral discs have three main components.
- The annulus fibrosis: A multi-ring structure that is made of a relatively hard form of collagen. As the outermost layer, it provides shape and protection to the disc.
- The nucleus pulposus: A relatively softer gel-like collagen. It gives the disc its cushion, serving as shock absorbers.
- The endplates of the discs: They are at either end of a spinal disc. This helps blend the discs into the vertebral bodies (bones).
Herniated discs occur when some of the annular fibres have torn enough that the inner nucleus pushes outward to the back of the spine. If it bulges enough, it can create local inflammation causing nerve irritation and symptoms like back pain, leg pain, or even tingling and weakness into the arms or legs.
Herniated discs can occur at any part of the spine, but the mid to lower neck and the lower back are the most common areas.
Causes of Herniated Discs
Many reasons can cause slipped discs to happen. However, most herniated discs can be attributed to two common reasons.
A) Injuries that cause severe stress or trauma to the spine and surrounding tissues.
- Landing hard on your back or tailbone
- Back or sports injury
B) Poor biomechanics of the joints and tissues leading to accumulated stress over time.
- Age. Herniated discs can occur at nearly any age, but the risk of accumulated stress and tissue damage increases with age.
- Repetitive movements that cause stress to the discs (e.g. repeated lifting of large and heavy objects)
- Specific health problems, such as obesity, where our spinal discs struggle to support the weight
- Lifestyle habits such as poor posture & prolonged sitting
Most patients with slipped discs may first start to experience lower back pain in their 30s that can develop into disc herniation. Relapses of the slipped discs can last until the 50s and above in some cases.
Symptoms of Herniated Discs
Herniated discs often manifest the following symptoms:
- Lower back pain
- Pain and numbness (in one or both sides of the body)
- Tingling or numbness in the shoulders, back, arms, legs, hands, or feet
- Unexplained muscle weakness
- Neck pain
- Problems straightening the back
- Pain in the hips, legs, or buttocks
- Pain that worsens when walking short distances or after prolonged sitting or standing
Not all people with slipped discs will have the same symptoms. In addition, the severity of the pain and symptoms experienced can vary from one person to another.
In addition, many people do not even know that they may be structurally predisposed to disc herniation. Sometimes slipped discs are only one wrong movement or minor injury away. However, once the disc has slipped, the above symptoms may manifest very strongly and rapidly.
That’s why it is best to seek our chiropractors at Elite Spine Centres to detect early signs of a slipped disc and find a solution as soon as possible.
Complications of a Bulging Disc
Frequently, a bulging disc presses against the spinal nerve roots as they exit the spine. One of the more common complications that arise from this is sciatica.
Sciatica is a group of symptoms defined by one-sided p in, numbness, tingling, and weakness that begins with lower back pain that spreads down the leg and foot. Sciatic pain has been described as sharp, stabbing, searing, or electric.
Back and leg discomfort and weakness might make it difficult for you to move, exercise, and participate in daily activities.
Cauda Equina Syndrome
While your spinal cord ends around your waist, a collection of lengthy nerve roots (cauda equna) continue down the spinal canal. A herniated disc can cut off nerve impulses to the cauda equina nerves in your lower back and le s in very rare circumstances.
You may lose control of your bowels or bladder if this happens.
In this scenario, the slipped disc causes pinched nerves, leading to reduced sensation in your inner thighs, back of your legs, and around your rectum.
Permanent Nerve Injury
Permanent nerve damage is one of the most severe side effects of a bulging disc. Pinched nerve roots in the spine can be irreversibly injured if they are not treated, resulting in chronic pain, weakness, and loss of feeling.
Don't wait until it's too late. Our professional chiropractors can help you return to optimal health with our proven, conservative treatment options. Make an appointment today!
The specifics of your slipped disc treatment plan will be based on many factors like your age, level of pain, duration of symptoms, weight, activity levels, and overall health. Rest assured, at Elite Spine Centres you will be in the best hands possible to direct your recovery and allow you to get back to living life to the fullest again!
Diagnosis of Slipped Discs
At Elite Spine Centres, our chiropractic team consists of highly trained doctors of chiropractic that have years of experience evaluating and addressing slipped disc conditions or degenerative disc issues.
The diagnosis of a herniated disc begins from your initial appointment. Our chiropractors will go over your medical history, perform a physical exam, and perform neurological and orthopaedic tests to assess your health. To maximise the accuracy of our diagnosis, some of these tests may specifically target the discs’ nerves to address any nerve interference or whether your back pain stems from the lumbar spine.
Additionally, imaging such as an X-ray or MRI may be required to confirm your diagnosis and to help tailor your treatment recommendations.
Following that, your chiropractor will explain your condition to you as well as the proposed treatment plan. We believe that it’s essential for every patient to understand their issues before proceeding with chiropractic care.
In some extreme cases where you have a progressive loss of reflexes, sensation, strength, and other unusual neurological findings, you will be referred to a medical specialist to determine if immediate surgery is necessary.
Chiropractic Treatment for Herniated Discs
Chiropractic treatment is a conservative approach to relieving symptoms associated with slipped discs without the side effects that generally come with medication!
To treat your herniated disc, your Elite Spine chiropractor will develop a personalised treatment plan based upon your specific condition and presentation. This treatment plan will be developed according to our whole-body approach, the Functional Correction Method (FCM).
To improve your spinal health, these methods may be used:
- Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression (NSSD) - Our modern equipment is designed to restore movement and nutrients to affected discs without ‘thrusting’ spinal manipulation. Over time, NSSD can reduce the pain and symptoms associated with a bulging disc.
- Manual Therapy- Your expert Elite Spine chiropractor will improve your spinal mobility and alignment through specific chiropractic adjustments. Not only that, but your chiropractor will also work on releasing tight and damaged soft tissues which prevent the relapse of herniated discs.
- Rehabilitative Exercises - Once our patients feel better, we begin teaching them specific stretching and strengthening exercises, similar to physiotherapy. This is to maintain your spinal health and prevent further disc degeneration.
- Additional Modalities as Needed - Modern therapies like Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) and Radial Shockwave Therapy (RSWT) may also be helpful for a herniated disc. These methods are proven to reduce inflammation and speed up tissue recovery.
Live Pain-Free Today!
Living with a herniated disc can be debilitating. Fortunately, with our expert chiropractic care at Elite Spine Centres, your disc problems will be an issue of the past.
We know that seeking chiropractic help for the first time may be overwhelming to many patients. Hence, we prepared a special introductory package covering almost everything you need for your first few visits to our clinic.
So what are you waiting for?
No more back pain, sleepless nights or mobility issues! Freedom from pain is just one appointment away.