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What Is A Slipped (Herniated) Disc?

A slipped disc is a problem with one of the rubbery cushions that sit in between every spinal bone which are otherwise called discs. These discs act as natural cushions that protect the bones by absorbing shocks from daily activities like lifting, twisting, jumping, and walking. These discs are made up of two parts i.e. a jelly-like inner portion and a hard outer part. An injury or weakness caused due to aging or any injury can cause the inner portion of the disc to protrude through the outer ring. This is known as a herniated, slipped, or prolapsed disc. Get to know more about managing a herniated disc now!

What Are The Symptoms of Slipped Disc

A slipped disc can occur in any part of the spine, but it often affects the lower back. Here are some symptoms of slipped disc you should know. 

  • Pain & numbness on one side of the body
  • Pain in arms and legs
  • Pain that worsens when the body moves 
  • Sharp pain during the night
  • Pain while sitting or standing
  • Sudden muscle weakness
  • Severe pain when walking short distances
  • Tingling, burning, and sharp pain sensation in the affected area. 

What Causes A Slipped Disc?

A slipped disc often occurs due to two reasons; age-related factors and injury. 

  • Age: Usually the outer ring weakens or tears allowing the inner cushioning or jelly-like portion to slip out. This is because your discs begin to lose their protective water content as you age. As a result, they can slip more easily out of place. This is more common among men than women.
  • Injury: Certain high-intensity motions such as turning, twisting with force, or heavy weight lifting can cause a slipped disc. Also, individuals in high-physical demanding jobs are at increased risk of having a slipped disc.
  • Obesity: Individuals who are overweight have higher risks of a slipped disc because their discs must support the additional weight. Regular exercise can prevent slipped discs. 
  • Cigarette Smoking: Smoking is known to reduce the supply of oxygen to the discs causing them to break more easily.
  • Frequent Driving/Driving Over Longer Periods: Seated for longer periods while driving puts immense pressure on the spine thus increasing your risks of a herniated disc. 

How Is Slipped Disc Diagnosed?

Initially, a doctor will check your back for tenderness or numbness. You may be asked to lie flat on a bed and move your legs in different directions. This is done to detect the cause of the pain. Moreover, here are some techniques used to determine if you have a slipped disc. 

1. Neurological Examination

A doctor may perform a neurological examination to check your:

  • Muscle strength
  • Ability to walk
  • Reflexes
  • Reaction when pinpricked or touched lightly.

Electromyograms and nerve conduction studies are two types of neurological tests performed by a doctor to measure how well electrical impulses are moving along nerve tissue. These tests help identify the location of nerve damage.

  • Nerve Conduction Study: The study measures the electrical impulses in nerve signals when a small current passes through the nerve. 
  • Electromyography: A  doctor inserts a needle electrode through the skin into various muscles that evaluates the electrical activity of muscles when contracted and when at rest.

2. Imaging Tests

In most cases, a slipped disc is often detected during a physical and neurological examination. He/she may also recommend that you get the following tests done in order to confirm the diagnosis.

  • X-Rays: They can provide detailed images of the spine, showing the location and extent of the disc herniation and any nerve compression or damage.
  • CT Scan: This scan takes several X-rays from different directions and combines them to show cross-sectional images of the spine and its surrounding structures. 
  • MRI Scan: This scan uses radio waves to create images of the body’s internal structures. It also shows the location of the slipped disc and its surrounding nerves.
  • Electromyography (EMG): In some cases, the doctor may order an EMG to assess nerve function and detect any abnormalities in the muscles or nerves of the affected area.

In order to diagnose and treat the condition effectively it is essential that you consult and experienced and skilled surgeon.

Looking for trained and experienced Orthopedic Surgeons ? At Medfin, we offer 15+ years of trained and experienced eye doctors who have a minimum of 10+ years in treating  slipped disc-related problems and passing accurate diagnoses. Advanced surgery made simple, accessible, and affordable for millions!

How Is Herniated (Slipped) Disc Treated?

The goal of initially treating herniated (slipped) disc is to modify the movement of certain activities to ease the pain. This also includes medications to suppress the pain. Here’s a bigger picture of how herniated discs are treated. 

1. Herniated Disc Therapy

The goals of physical therapy for a herniated disc are to reduce pain, inflammation, and muscle spasms, improve flexibility, strength, and mobility, and prevent future injury or recurrence. Follow the instruction from your therapist carefully to achieve a faster recovery. 

2. Medication

  • Pain Relievers: For mild to moderate herniated disc pain, your doctor might recommend pain medications.
  • Neuropathic Drugs: These drugs impact nerve impulses to decrease the pain
  • Muscle Relaxers: If you have muscle spasms, you might be prescribed muscle relaxers. You might be prescribed these if you have muscle spasms. Sedation and dizziness are common side effects. 
  • Cortisone Injections. If your pain doesn't improve with oral medications, your doctor might recommend a corticosteroid injected into the area around the spinal nerves. Spinal imaging can help guide the needle.

3. Surgery

Types of Slip Disc Surgery

A doctor might suggest surgery if neuropathic as well as therapy treatments fail to improve your symptoms after six weeks.

  • Laminotomy or Laminectomy

During a laminotomy, a surgeon removes a part or most of the spinal bone called a lamina. This is done to relieve pressure on the spinal cord or nerves. Laminotomy can be performed using different techniques, including traditional open surgery or minimally invasive procedures , depending on the specific needs of the patient.

  • Discectomy OR Microdiscectomy

Discectomy is the most common surgery used for slipped discs. In this procedure, a portion of the disc causing pressure on your nerve root is removed. In some cases, the entire disc is removed depending on your severity. In microdiscectomy, an incision is made on the back of your neck, and special surgical instruments are inserted to repair the defect. The procedure is typically performed on patients who experience pain, numbness, or weakness in the arms or legs due to pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots caused by a bulging or herniated disc.

  • Spinal Fusion

Spinal fusion is typically used to treat conditions that cause instability or excessive movement in the spine, such as degenerative disc disease, spinal fractures, spinal stenosis, and scoliosis. It involves connecting 2 or more vertebrae in the spine to create one solid bone. Connecting them prevents movement and stabilizes the spine. Here your doctor removes the damaged portions of the disc or the bone and fuses the adjacent vertebrae with the help of a bone graft and stabilizes it with the help of metal plates and screws. 

  • Artificial Disc Surgery

Artificial disc surgery , also known as artificial disc replacement, is a surgical procedure used to treat severe disc-related pain in the spine. It involves replacing a damaged or degenerated spinal disc with an artificial disc made of metal or a combination of metal and plastic. The procedure is typically performed on patients who have not responded to more conservative treatments. The surgeon makes an incision in the patient's abdomen or neck, depending on the location of the affected disc. The damaged disc is then removed, and the artificial disc is inserted in its place.

How To Prevent Slipped Discs?

It is not possible to prevent a slipped disc but you can be cautious of reducing your risks. Here are some steps to keep in mind that can save you from a herniated disc. 

  • Maintain healthy weight
  • Regular exercising to help strengthen back, leg, and abdomen muscles
  • Do not remain seated for long periods of time.
  • Be cautious while lighting heavy weights. It is recommended to bend from your knees and not from your waist while lifting heavy objects.

Why Choose Medfin?

Surgery can be a daunting aspect, and feeling anxious is absolutely normal. The massive amount of information you can get from the internet may confuse you even more. This is where Medfin can help. Our team of Orthopedic surgeons are 15+ years certified and have extensively treated herniated disc problems for over a decade. We suggest advanced surgical procedures that are painless and scarless aimed to boost recovery Think Surgery! Think Medfin!

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Frequently Asked Questions

Medfin offers the latest surgical procedures to ensure that you recover as fast as possible in the least painful way possible.

Herniated discs, usually tend to heal itself. If the symptoms persist over time, consult your doctor for surgical treatment option.

For people who have back pain due to herniated disk or slipped disc, the symptoms often go away within six to eight weeks.

You can go through surgical or non-surgical treatment. Non-surgical treatments involve, taking rest for a few days, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy and epidural steroid injection. And surgical treatment involves microdiscectomy and rehabilitation.

One of the symptoms of the slip discs are pain and if your disc is pressing on sciatic nervy then you might feel pain in your legs, buttocks and hips. Sometimes you will feel numbness or tingling in your limps and shoulders if you have a slipped disc.

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