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Slipped disc symptoms? How to tell if you have a slipped disc and treatment options

Also known as disc protrusion, the name slipped disc is a common misconception. In your spine you have multiple vertebrae and between these vertebrae spongy shock absorbers, made from cartilaginous material, known as spinal discs. Your discs are a bit like a doughnuts, they have a spongy cartilaginous outside ring are quite acidic inside.

What can happen, is that the ring on the outside called the "annulus fibrosis" can tear and the central, acidic, what we call "nucleus pulpous" can bulge outwards. Luckily due to having a very strong ligament protecting our spine called the posterior longitudinal ligament our spinal cord is protected, however, the disc usually bulges to the side, often pinching the spinal nerves, which exit between each of the vertebrae.

How to tell if you have a slipped disc

When the soft inside bulges, the acidic area of the disc is exposed and and can cause a painful inflammatory response.

This inflammation and "pinching" of the nerve often produces slipped disc symptoms like a sharp shooting pain down the leg, pins and needles, numbness and weakness. Some people call these sciatic pains. However, most medical professionals do not like this term as it's often used as an umbrella term for all pain that goes down the leg. Slipped discs in the neck give the same symptoms down the arm and quite often a stabbing pain in the upper shoulder.

The onset of a disc protrusion, tends to be a sudden, with quite severe pain compared to most back pain, which tends to build up over time, getting more frequent. The most common disc's which bulge are the bottom three discs in the spine, as well as the C5 in the neck, know as the cervical spine.

How to Help a Slipped Disc

Slipped disc treatments with your Chiropractor may include exercises called Mckenzie exercise protocols, nerve flossing/ glides, flexion-distraction, manipulation, muscle balance, strengthening, taping, medical acupuncture. The idea is to try and encourage the disc to reabsorb and to address and cure any underlying dysfunction.

How to cure a slipped disc

Discs have very little blood flow to them, unlike muscles, which are fleshy and red, and have a lot of blood flow, so discs heal slower than muscles. Make sure you try conservative treatment first and have a thorough Chiropractic assessment to diagnose which disc may have been affected, especially if you are getting any pains down the leg or arm.


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