Bulging, herniated and slipped are all terms that describe the loss of the normal structure and shape of your spinal discs.
Spinal discs separate the vertebrae in your spine and cushion your back. They have a tough outer layer and are a bit like a gel inside.
A slipped disc – also known as a herniated or prolapsed disc – is where the outer case of the disc splits and the gel inside bulges out.
This puts pressure on the spinal cord (the group of nerves that runs down the middle of the spine). It can affect multiple nerves or just one, and often results in back pain and possibly even pain in the area that the nerve controls.
Most people recover from a slipped disc. The spinal disc usually shrinks back and stops pushing on the nerve. In some cases, however, the disc can keep pressuring the nerve, but your brain learns to switch off the pain signal.
That said, recovery can take a while – usually between one and three months. It sounds like you are doing all the right things, though; the usual treatments include physiotherapy and pain relief.
The main causes of slipped discs include:
The most common symptoms of slipped discs include:
It is important that doctors pay attention to each patient's symptoms when diagnosing a slipped disc because scans do not always correlate with the symptoms you have. For example, there may be minor bulges of several discs seen on a scan but these do not cause any symptoms. Some people may not even show any symptoms and can live with a slipped disc unknowingly.
Diagnosis of slipped disc can be done by a physical examination, by your GP or other suitably qualified medical professional. Further scans, such as an MRI scan that uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the body, are also helpful.
The most common treatments of slipped discs include:
In some cases, pain relieving injections and surgery can also be used.
If your specialist was not sure about your recovery, I would suggest having another review with them in 2-3 month time, hopefully your symptoms will improve.
If you want to protect yourself from a slipped disc, it is important to:
Answered by the Health at Hand team.
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