Slipped Disk Quick Overview
The disks are protective shock-absorbing pads between the bones of the spine (vertebrae). The disks of the spine are also referred to as intervertebral disks. This can cause the disk cartilage and nearby tissue to fail (herniate), allowing the inner gel portion of the disk to escape into the surrounding tissue.
This protruding, jelly-like substance can place pressure on the spinal cord or on an adjacent nerve to cause symptoms of pain, numbness, or weakness either around the damaged disk or anywhere along the area supplied by that nerve.
Many people experience no symptoms from a herniated disk, and the majority of people who have herniated disks do not need surgery.
The layman’s term “slipped disk” is, therefore, a misnomer and actually refers to a condition whereby portions of an abnormal, injured, or degenerated disk have protruded against adjacent nerve tissues. This condition is also known as a herniated disk, ruptured disk, or prolapsed disk. The most frequently affected area is in the low back, but any disk can rupture, including those in the neck.
What Are Causes and Risk Factors of a Slipped Disk?
Risk factors that lead to a slipped disk include aging with associated degeneration and loss of elasticity of the disks and supporting structures; injury from improper lifting, especially if accompanied by twisting or turning; and excessive strain forces associated with physical activities. Sudden forceful acute trauma is an uncommon cause of a slipped disk.
What Are Symptoms of a Slipped Disk?
The nerves of the body exit the spine at each spinal level in the low back, mid back, and neck. A herniated disk can produce symptoms anywhere along the course of that nerve, though the injury and irritation of the nerve are at the spine itself. (This is known as referred pain, as the pain is “referred” from the source of the problem in the spine to the area supplied by the affected nerve.) A slipped disk can produce varying degrees of pain in the back or neck along with numbness or weakness in the corresponding organs, arms, or legs as follows:
- For slipped disks in the neck: Neck symptoms and other associated symptoms include numbness, tingling, weakness, or pain in the shoulder, neck, arm, or hand. Symptoms of a herniated disk in the neck often increase or decrease with neck motion.
- For slipped disks in the lower back, back symptoms include
- Pain down the back of each leg from the buttocks to the knee or beyond (this is called sciatica, as it affects the sciatic nerve)
- Numbness, tingling, weakness, or pain in the buttocks, back, legs, orfeet or all of these as in sciatica
- Numbness and tingling around the anus or genitals
- Pain with movement, straining, coughing, or doing leg raises
- Difficulty controlling bowel movements or bladder function
When Should Someone Seek Medical Care for a Slipped Disk?
You should consult with your doctor for any neck or back pain significant enough to limit activity, any back pain that lasts more than a few days, or any neck or back pain associated with numbness or weakness, loss of bladder or bowel control, fever, or abdominal or chest pain. The doctor may suggest an urgent office evaluation or may advise you to go to the hospital’s emergency department.
Any injury that may suggest more significant back or neck problems, such as a fall from a height or a direct blow to the spine, should be evaluated at the hospital’s emergency department. Consider calling 911 for an ambulance. Medical teams can immobilize the spine and protect against further damage.
You should also seek emergency evaluation if the pain or symptoms are severe enough to prevent you from walking, are associated with severe numbness or weakness of any extremity, are associated with loss of bowel or bladder control, or are associated symptoms not readily explained by the spine problem (such as fever, abdominal pain, or chest pain).
Physician specialties that evaluate and treat slipped disk range from generalists to subspecialists. These specialties include general medicine, family medicine, internal medicine, gynecology, orthopaedics, neurosurgery, rheumatology, pain management, and physiatry.
Other health-care providers for low back pain include physical therapists, chiropractors, massage therapists, psychologists, and acupuncturists.
Wu Zu Qi Tuina at the Chin’s Qi Tuina Centre removes blockages of qi flow along the back and spine, and once healthy qi flow has been re-instated, then traction is applied to re-align the slipped disks.
Usually, after the 1st treatment, our patients experience almost total pain relief and many stop after the 4th treatment having achieved total pain relief and many being able to bend over and touch their toes or floor, after some exercises are taught to them. Some references are Dato’ Seri Alif Aiman, Dato’ Zarul, Ms. Teh, Mr. Jeffrey Chai and so on … please go to Chin’s Qi Tuina Centre for some of our patients’ references.
Please go to Chin’s Qi Tuina Centre for an appointment.