Slipped Disc

What exactly IS a Slipped Disc?

Sometimes disc injuries are called "slipped discs".

This term is not an accurate description of what happens to the disc.

More appropriate terms are disc tear, bulging disc, herniated disc, prolapsed disc, and desiccated disc. All of these terms come under the umbrella term: disc degeneration.

When we're asked about slipped disc therapy, we inform patients about the properties of a disc and what has actually happened to their spine. This part of the history-taking is very important.

You must be able to report the specifics of what you have experienced.

One factor about disc problems is that they are often ignored for too long a time.

"I thought it would go away" is what we often hear.

How to know if you HAVE a potential disc problem?

Simple warning signs are often ignored.

  • Pain after sitting
  • Stiffness in the morning
  • Sharp shooting pains
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue

A Disc Anatomy Tutorial:

There are only four types of tissue in the body:

  • Nerve
  • Muscle
  • Epithelia
  • Connective tissue

The discs of the spine are connective tissue. The discs themselves have annular fibers around the edges and a center of softer gel material called the nucleus pulposus.

What is a disc tear?

It's a tear in the annular fibers that allows that inner nucleus material to move toward the back of the disc. A disc tear may cause pain symptoms for a short period of time.

Bulging disc?

The nucleus starts to move to the back of the disc through the annular tears. The nucleus is still contained within the outer annular fibers but has distorted the shape to the disc. Now there can be pressure on the nerves. This will usually produce symptoms.

Herniated disc?

The nucleus material now has broken through all the annular fibers and extends beyond the normal limits of the disc space. This will put pressure on the nerves and give you symptoms of varying degrees of pain.

Prolapsed disc?

A piece of disc material breaks off and is now floating freely.
This will give you symptoms that appear one day and disappear another.

Desiccated disc?

The tissue of the disc has been dehydrated for a long period of time. Nutrition to the disc has been poor for a long time as well. There is decrease in disc height and bone spurs may have started forming in an attempt to fuse the joints together.

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