Spinal Disc Herniation (Slipped Disc)
Spinal disc herniation's are commonly referred to as 'slipped discs' or disc protrusions. They are more common as we age due to the degeneration of the outer rings of the spinal discs, however they may also occur from placing undue strain on the back. Find out more about the causes, symptoms and treatments for slipped disc injuries. Plus, find a range of back supports and braces and products to assist in alleviating back pain caused by disc herniation.
Anatomy of the Spine
The intervertebral disks are composed of a connective tissue outer ring (anulus fibrosis) and a core of a pulpy, semifluid centre (nucleus pulposus). They lie between adjacent vertebrae in the spine, forming a cartilaginous joint between the two vertebras to which they attach. The discs allow the spine to move freely and act as shock absorbers during weight bearing activities.
Slipped Disc Causes
The outer ring of the spinal disc (anulus fibrosis) may suffer tears. When only some of the fibres are torn, the inner core of the disc (nucleus pulposus) is contained, however the disc will bulge either posteriorly or posterolaterally, depending on where the tear is. When all of the fibres of the outer ring are torn, the nucleus pulposus (semifluid centre) will herniate into the vertebral canal. Both bulging and herniation can cause compression of spinal nerve roots as they leave the vertebral canal.
Common Causes of Spinal Disc Herniation
- Isolated flexion or combined flexion rotation movements of the spine may tear some or all of the fibres of the anulus fibrosis
- As we age, our spinal discs degenerate, which can make us more prone to spinal disc herniations
- Lifting injuries such as bearing too much weight or using incorrect posture whilst lifting weight can cause slipped disc herniations or protrusions
- Trauma such as collisions during physical activities or car accidents can also cause disc injuries, often impacting multiple discs in the spine
Slipped Disc Symptoms
- Central or unilateral lower back pain, generally aggravated by flexion
- If there is compression of a nerve root, a sharp, shooting pain may radiate into the leg on the side of the affected nerve root. This pain may increase on exertion. This may also be altered sensation (numbness or pins and needles), diminished reflexes and decreased muscle power
- If there is no nerve root compression, pain may also radiate down the buttock and back of the thigh. This is more of a dull pain and does not usually extend past the knee
- Impaired mobility due to pain and stiffness
- Muscle tightness in the back and sometimes buttock
'Sciatica' refers specifically to pain felt down the back of the thigh and leg, along the course of your sciatic nerve, caused by inflammation of this nerve. It may be the result of compression by a disc bulge or column however there are also other causes. Sciatic pain is often a symptom of a bulging disc.
Treatments for Slipped Disc
Please consult with your medical professional for a complete diagnosis of your back pain and tailored back pain treatment plan.
Recommended Back Supports and Braces:
Under the direction of your medical professional and in conjunction with your advised treatment plan, the following Thermoskin products are recommended:
- Thermoskin Lumbar Support - provides protection, heat, compression and support to muscle injuries and general lower back dysfunctions. This product has 2 flexible internal stays for additional support and adjustable side straps for extra compression
- Thermoskin Back - provides protection, heat and mild support to muscle injuries and general lower back dysfunctions
- Thermoskin Elastic Back Stabiliser - provides compression and support for general lower back dysfunctions. There are 4 internal stays for additional support, adjustable elastic side straps for extra compression and contains a lightweight breathable mesh knit for ventilation
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