What You Need to Know About a Slipped Disc

October 24, 2019

A slipped disc, also known as a herniated disc, refers to a problem with one of the rubbery cushions (discs) that sit between the individual bones (vertebrae) that stack to make your spine. A spinal disc has a soft, jellylike center (nucleus) encased in a tougher, rubbery exterior. A herniated disc occurs when some of the nucleus pushes out through a tear into the rubbery exterior.

Herniated discs can occur in any part of the spine and can irritate a nearby nerve. Depending on where the herniated disc is, it can result in pain, numbness or weakness in an arm or leg. As you age, your discs become less flexible and more prone to tearing or rupturing with even a minor strain or twist. This age-related wear and tear is called disc degeneration.

Most people can’t pinpoint the cause of their herniated disc. Sometimes, using your back muscles instead of your leg and thigh muscles to lift heavy objects can lead to a herniated disc, as can twisting and turning while lifting. Rarely, a traumatic event, such as a fall or a blow to the back, is the cause.

Let’s take a look at what you need to know about a slipped disc:

Understand the risk factors

There are several risk factors that can cause a slipped disc. Some include:

  • Weight. Excess body weight causes extra stress on the disks in your lower back.
  • Occupation. People with physically demanding jobs have a greater risk of back problems. Lifting, pulling, pushing, bending sideways, and twisting can increase your risk of a slipped disc.
  • Genetics. Some people inherit a predisposition to developing a slipped disc.
  • Smoking. It’s thought that smoking reduces the oxygen supply to the disc, causing it to break down more quickly.

Prevent a slipped disc from occurring

To prevent a herniated disc, consider the following:

  • Exercise. Strengthening the trunk muscles stabilizes and supports the spine.
  • Maintain good posture. This reduces pressure on your spine and discs. Keep your back straight and aligned, particularly when sitting for long periods.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight puts more pressure on the spine and discs, making them more susceptible to herniation.
  • Quit smoking. Avoid the use of any tobacco products.

Find the best treatment method

In some cases, therapy, medication, or at-home exercises can help reduce pain and relieve your symptoms. In more extreme cases, your doctor might suggest surgery. Especially if you have constant pain, numbness or weakness, difficulty standing or walking, or loss of bladder control.

The orthopaedic surgeons on staff at Campbell Clinic are specifically trained to treat and operate on slipped or herniated discs. Their expertise and in-depth surgical training can help treat even the most advanced cases of slipped discs. If you’re ready to address the pain you’re experiencing, make an appointment today.


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