Understanding Slipped (Herniated) Disc And Its Other Terms

You may have heard of the word ‘slipped disc’ multiple times throughout your lifetime but do you know the medical term for it is Herniated Disc? It can also be referred to as a ruptured, torn, bulged, prolapsed, protruded or sequestrated disc by your healthcare professional.

While the terms may adversely differ and make you wonder if they are the same problems altogether- a slipped disc is in fact, a very common phenomenon. Highly prevalent in people between the ages of 30-50 years and more commonly seen in men than women (ratio 2:1), 56% of adults have evidence of slipped discs in the lumbar spine with 20-35% of working age adults are asymptomatic. Severity of the symptoms and neurological signs do not correlate well with the size of the disc pathology and while severe pain may also be present without imaging evidence of nerve root compression.

So what exactly is a slipped disc?

A slipped disc occurs when a soft cushion or ‘gel’ also known as intervertebral disc between the vertebrae bodies  in your spine shifts and pushes out beyond the intervertebral disc space. In people between the age of 25 to 55 years old, about 95% of slipped discs occur at the lower lumbar spine.

In the event of a fall or impact, these discs may shift out of place or rupture. Slipped discs can also happen by virtue of wear and tear due to uneven weight distribution contributed by incorrect biomechanics as one ages- where the discs may lose their elasticity as they dehydrate, causing the cartilage to stiffen and become at risk of damage.

If you experience numbness or pain that travels down your legs, it is likely that you have a slipped disc. Some may even feel an uncomfortable sensation shooting down from the lower spine to the foot as the nerves are pinched or compressed by the herniated discs (as seen below).

Here are some tell-tale signs if you suspect you have slipped a disc.

What slipped disc feels like:

  • Neck or lower back pain/discomfort/stiffness
  • Quality of pain can be shooting, burning, lanciating
  • Numbness and tingling or pins and needles down your arm(s), hand(s) and finger(s) or down your leg(s), knee(s), ankle(s) or feet.
  • Trouble bending or straightening your neck or back
  • Trouble getting up from a seated position
  • Trouble sitting/lying down
  • Pain or muscle weakness in the arms, hands, fingers, hips, legs or buttocks region
  • Inability to lift a heavy object

When to look for a chiropractor and why?

If you suspect your back pain or body discomfort is caused by a herniated disc, a chiropractor may help you to relieve these pain and discomfort symptoms early, and without the need for drugs or steroid injections at a later stage if the condition worsens.

Chiropractic care is a non-surgical treatment option that is safe and holistic – targeted to help with  pain, stiffness and swelling caused by a bulging or herniated disc.

A good chiropractor will discuss with you about your pain/ symptoms, general health and wellness, lifestyle and any previous health conditions and then assess you via a thorough physical and neurological examination to determine the severity of your condition. You will be advised accordingly if any X-rays, MRIs or any other referrals are required. As they are trained to evaluate spine health, a personal treatment plan inclusive of manual therapies, therapeutic exercises and home care will be customised to suit your body.

These may include spinal decompression therapy, ultrasound therapy, therapy with heat/ice and many others suited for the treatment of a slipped disc . Your chiropractor may recommend stretching, strengthening and rehabilitative exercises aimed at strengthening your gluteus, core and back muscles as well.

Lower Back Spinal Decompression by My Chirocare
Neck Decompression by My Chirocare

Can a re-herniation occur?

Unfortunately, you may be at a higher risk of redeveloping slipped discs or symptom(s) of slipped disc if you have had a history of the event. Thankfully, a good chiropractor will also be able to advise you on the regular exercises you can do such as daily walks and bridge exercises, good posture practice, safe lifting techniques and optimal sleeping positions for a good spinal health (Click here to read more on that)

While symptoms of slipped disc may come and go, the daily discomfort is enough to affect one’s physical movements, emotions and mental health.

If you suspect that you have slipped disc or if you have any neck or back discomfort, head on over to our Chiropractic clinic at 1 Seletar Rd, #01-03/17 Greenwich V, Singapore 807011 (Be sure to make an appointment first) to get yourself assessed by our professional chiropractors. Our Doctors of Chiropractic will tailor your treatment according to your need by combining chiropractic adjustments with modern therapeutic technologies, lifestyle modification and nutritional advice.

Regain your quality of life early with early intervention.

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