What Are Signs of a Slipped Disk?

What are the signs of a slipped disk? They are exactly the same as a herniated disk, bulging disk, or a ruptured disk, since they are all generally the same. The terms are interchangeable. It mostly occurs in the lumbar region or lower part of your back and spine, although it can also happen in the neck area. We will continue to use the term “slipped” throughout and help you understand how to recognize a slipped disk, what can cause it, and what to do about it.

What Is a Slipped Disk?

Our spine consists of bones known as vertebrae. In between each vertebrae is a flexible cushion known as a disk which helps us to move and twist. Inside is a rubbery jelly-like cushion called the nucleus which is covered by a tougher exterior called the annulus. 

If there is a tear in the annulus and some of the nucleus pushes out, that is a slipped disk. Some people experience no symptoms with a slipped disk, but others do and it’s quite painful.

doctor with anatomical lumbar disc herniation model while in consultation of man with back pain.

Common Risk Factors for Developing a Slipped Disk

A slipped disk can affect people of all ages.  

People most likely to be susceptible include those who:

  • Are overweight
  • Have certain occupations which are physically demanding, requiring repetitive lifting, pulling, and pushing, plus repetitive bending sideways and twisting
  • Have a genetic disposition
  • Who smoke
  • Drive frequently
  • Live a sedentary lifestyle

Back pain is the leading reason for lost work hours, workmen’s compensations, and trips to the emergency room. Consider making some lifestyle changes to prevent a slipped disk. 

What Are Common Signs of a Slipped Disk?

It’s easy to confuse a muscle strain with a slipped disk. A muscle strain in your lower back is characterized by aching local pain during the strain. There may be swelling, inflammation, and even bruising. 

A slipped disk has sharp and radiating pain instead of the localized aching pain of a muscle strain. There may be neurological symptoms like numbness and tingling. A slipped disk may also cause weakness in your arms or legs. You will especially have pain while you are sitting.

Sciatica pain is similar with its radiating pain down the thigh and legs.

Immediately see a professional if your pain worsens, if you have bladder or bowel dysfunction, and if you experience saddle anesthesia. This is a numbness in your inner thighs, back of the legs, genitals or around the rectum. These symptoms can be a medical emergency.

What to Avoid With a Slipped Disk

Refrain from stretching and moving too much and don’t try to treat yourself. You should immediately make an appointment to see Spine & Scoliosis Specialists for an evaluation and diagnosis in High Point and Greensboro, NC.

Pain can become more severe with certain tasks, so be sure to:

  • Specifically avoid bending forward or down
  • Refrain from lifting anything heavy
  • Don’t push or pull anything heavy
  • Try to avoid coughing or sneezing

How Is a Slipped Disk Treated?

Your spine specialist may treat your slipped disk with medication, physical therapy, injections to relieve inflammation and pain, along with some suggestions for lifestyle modifications.

If you are experiencing signs of a slipped disk, contact Spine & Scoliosis Specialists at 336.333.6306 for a proper diagnosis and treatment.