The ‘Slipped’ Disc

The term “Slipped disc” is frequently used as an informal name for the condition more correctly known as spinal disc herniation.  The term ‘slipped disc’ is not medically accurate as the spinal discs are firmly attached between the vertebrae and cannot actually ‘slip’ out of place.

The spinal bones, or vertebrae, which comprise the spinal column are joined together by cartilage discs.  Each disc in the spine consists of a circle of connective tissue with a central jelly-like core.

There are many different terms used to describe spinal disc problems and associated pain, such as “herniated disc”, “pinched nerve”, “protruding disc” and “bulging disc”, and all are used differently by doctors.  Patients can easily be confused and frustrated  when they hear their diagnosis referred to in various terms by different practitioners. Unfortunately, at present there is no standardised agreement in the healthcare field as to the precise definition of any of these terms.  

A bulging disc is a described when a smaller protrusion of the central nuclear material (the jelly-like substance), still contained by some of the outer annular fibers. A herniated disc is one that has ruptured through the annulus.  

A protrusion may press on the spinal cord or on the nerve roots, giving rise to severe pain often radiating down the leg or arm,  depending on the area of the spine affected. A reduced movement at the spinal joints involved is often found. 

It is worthwhile noting that there will be a significant number of the population who have a herniated discs at any one time that they are not even aware of it because it is not pressing on the spinal cord or on nerve roots and are, therefore, causing no discomfort. 

To find out more our next blog post will explain the causes, symptoms and treatment. Feel free to give us a call to discuss any questions or advice you would like 01600 890282.


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