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A slid disc is a spine intervertebral disc that has lost its typical form and/or consistency. When the disc’s soft inner material (nucleus pulposus) bulges or seeps out of its external fibrous covering (annulus fibrosus), it changes shape. A slipping disc may be referred to by several medical terminology, including herniated, ruptured, torn, bulged, or projecting disc.
Your intervertebral discs act as spinal shock absorbers, distributing loads evenly. When a disc slips, the entire motion segment is impacted, including the neighbouring vertebrae, connective tissue, blood vessels, and nerves. The lower back is the most prevalent location for slipped discs, followed by the neck.
What causes a slipping disc?
The three most common causes of a slipped or herniated disc are as follows:
- Natural disc degeneration leads the nucleus pulposus to become less hydrated and weaker with age.
- Trauma to the disc, which can occur as a result of incorrectly lifting a high load or from external forces such as a whiplash injury.
A slid disc can arise in rare cases due to diseases of the spine’s connective tissue or changes in the morphology of the spinal vertebrae, such as short pedicles.
Discs that are contained vs. discs that are not contained
A contained disc occurs when the nucleus pulposus of a slipped disc leaks into the tears of the annulus fibrosus but does not exit beyond the disc’s outermost layer.
An uncontained disc occurs when the nucleus pulposus fully seeps outside the disc.
Different types of pain caused by a slipped disc
A slipped disc might produce pain in your neck or back, as well as in a distant place, such as your arm and/or leg.
Some slipping discs are not painful. A herniated disc might be painless and/or spontaneously resolve itself without therapy.
Herniation is most common on the side and rear of the disc, where the annulus fibrosis is thinner. This section of the disc is also adjacent to the spinal nerve roots, which might result in –
- Mechanical compression of these nerve roots can cause nerve discomfort and/or weakness in your arm or leg, depending on where the compression occurs.
- Chemical irritation of the nerve roots caused by inflammatory chemicals seeping from the nucleus pulposus
Compression of the spinal cord or cauda equina may occur in severe disc herniation.
Localised chronic pain
A slipped disc can produce chronic, localised pain, such as lower back pain 5 or neck discomfort. 6 This is also referred to as discogenic pain.
Instability of motion segments
A slipped disc caused by degeneration may result in spinal motion segment instability, resulting in discomfort and abnormally increased or decreased mobility.
The significance of accurate diagnosis
A doctor can correctly identify a slipped disc and rule out other possible reasons of discomfort, such as tumours, fractures, or infection. A proper diagnosis also aids in the development of an efficient treatment strategy to control your symptoms and prevent the progression of nerve or spinal cord damage.
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