A slipped disc can either be a herniated disc or a bulging disc, depending on what the “slippage” of the disc ends up causing. However, it’s important to understand what a disc is and why the slippage causes you pain in the first place. Tiny bones called vertebrae build up the spine, and in between those bones are little structures called discs. These discs absorb and compensate for the shock that we experience every day. Shock doesn’t only mean traumatic events like a car crash or a bad fall. Simple motions like walking, twisting, lifting, and sitting down also cause small instances of shock.
Discs start degenerating due to natural aging or from a powerful external force. With enough wear and tear, the disc’s outer shell shrinks, causing the internal jelly-like substance within it to leak or “bulge” out, putting pressure on spinal nerves. This pressure typically causes chronic back, leg, or neck pain.
The Difference Between a Slipped Disc and a Herniated or Bulging Disc
Patients often get confused as to what kind of disc condition they may have when experiencing chronic back pain. While herniated discs and bulging discs are distinctly separate from each other, a slipped disc occurs in conjunction with one of the two conditions. Once the outer layer of a disc degenerates enough, the inner portion may “slip” out of place, and that inner portion may then make the outer layer bulge out or rupture completely. To phrase it another way, if you believe you are experiencing symptoms of a slipped disc, you most likely have either a bulging or herniated disc.
Slipped Disc Symptoms
Symptoms of a slipped disc often vary, depending on where they occur and how old you are. They often include:
- Pain after walking a short distance.
- Pain localized to one side of your body.
- Sharper pain from sitting down or standing up.
- Unexpected muscle weakness.
- Pain reaching out to the legs and arms.
- Pain that can be described as aching, tingling, or burning.
Treating a Slipped Disc
Treatments for a slipped disc depend on the intensity of the discomfort. While some patients can treat themselves with a conservative routine of light exercise, stretching, and simple lifestyle changes, others may need to take pain medication with back strengthening physical therapy sessions. If symptoms don’t alleviate after six weeks, surgery may be necessary. Patients can best address chronic pain when diagnosed by a certified pain expert. Garden State Pain Center’s doctors in New Jersey have over 50 years of combined experience and can help you with the discomfort you’re feeling from a slipped disc. Contact one of our offices today to set an appointment.