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The Symptoms and Treatments for a Slipped Disc

Cross-sections of the spinal cord at varying l...
Cross-sections of the spinal cord at varying levels. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Back pain is a common reason for people to visit their doctor when they experience pain and often it isn’t a cause for concern.  Muscle strain is a common cause for back pain and can be easily treated at home.  However, if you are experiencing severe back pain and you’ve tried resting your back, it wasn’t brought on by an injury or if it sudden occurred and you cannot recall doing anything that might have prompted your back pain you should pay a visit to your doctor.

Slipped Disc Symptoms

While most people will experience pain from the slipped disc not everyone has symptoms relating to the prolapsed disc.  However, for those that are experiencing back pain the most common symptoms of a slipped disc are as follows:

Back and Nerve Root Pain

Many people who have experienced back pain are diagnosed with a slipped or prolapsed disc,which causes pain in the lower back. This can be determined by an MRI done to view the spine and the surrounding components of the back.  The pain from a prolapsed disc most often occurs because the disc is pressing against a nerve root.  Aside from the pain there are other symptoms indicating the problem particularly in a leg.


When the disc is pressing against the nerve root the most common nerve affected is the sciatic nerve.  It is a large nerve made up of smaller nerves that come out from the spinal cord.  The nerve runs down the back deep into the buttock and down the back of the leg.  Each side of the body has a sciatic nerve and when the disc is pressing against it the condition is known as sciatica.

Numbness, Weakness

Sometimes when the disc presses on the nerve root a pins and needles sensation,  numbness, weakness in the buttock, leg or foot can occur.  The exact site and the side of the numbness or weakness is dependent on which nerve in the back is being affected.

Cauda Equina Syndrome


English: Vagus nerve
English: Vagus nerve (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

his occurs when the nerves at the end of the spinal cord are being pressed on by a slipped disc and it affects the bowel and bladder function of the patient.  If you are having trouble passing urine or are experience incontinence, numbness around the anus or weakness in one or both legs you need to visit an emergency room.  The nerves of the bladder and bowel can be permanently damaged if you ignore these symptoms.

Treatments for a Slipped Disc

There are both surgical and non-surgical treatment options for fixing a slipped disc including:

Keep Going

It sounds a bit ridiculous but you need to keep moving and resume normal activities if you can.  Exercise will help you keep moving and may relief some of the pain but don’t do anything that is going to cause or worsen your pain.  Along with staying active you want to sleep in as normal of a position as you can on a comfortable surface.  Firm mattresses used to be recommended but there is no medical evidence to support this suggestion.


If the pain persists for awhile surgery may be recommended to cut out the disc and help try to relieve your pain.  However

Cross-section through the spinal cord at the m...
Cross-section through the spinal cord at the mid-thoracic level. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

not everyone will need surgery and it isn’t always effective.

Physical Treatments

These may include physical therapy, chiropractic care or massage therapy.  While not everyone thinks physical treatments actually work, many people have experienced pain relief at least for a short while and it can help bring about a faster recovery time.

Medications may be necessary to help relieve the pain and muscle relaxants may be prescribed as well.

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