Slipped Disk

You Can’t ‘Slip’ a Disc!

It’s about time we got rid of the term ‘slipped disc’

Just like we need to get rid of COVID!

It’s the common term that has been hanging round for years to describe injuries to the back that involve the spinal disc.

It’s outdated, misleading and doesn’t do you any favours if you have had a back injury and you’re trying to get better!

Let’s put the record straight with some simple facts and description about what does happen with discs when you injure them and what can be done!

How do I know if I’ve slipped a disc?

I’ve heard countless stories from people who have been diagnosed with a ‘slipped disc’ without actually having a scan.

A therapist or medical professional can give you an educated guess based upon your presentation and symptoms – following a thorough assessment.

They cannot see through your back with XRAY/MRI vision!

The only way you can tell if you have slipped a disc is with an MRI scan. Most disc injuries shouldn’t need a scan. You would only need a scan for your lower back if you were going to need surgery – which most back issues do not need.

Signs of a disc injury which are common in clinic are:

  • Longer healing times – 3 months for symptoms to reduce – this can extend to a year for more serious injuries
  • Poor lower back bend – struggling to put socks on or bend over is a common feature
  • +/- pain extending down your leg with pins and needles or numbness can be common
  • Poor tolerance to being in the same position for short periods of time

As a safety note: if you are experiencing problems with your toileting such as increased frequency, retention or numbness in the area where you wipe and pain in one or both of your legs  - you should proceed to A&E for immediate exam.

If these symptoms occur with your new back injury - this can indicate CAUDA EQUINA SYNDOROME.

This is compression of the nerves that supply your important functions such as bladder and bowels. If a disc injury is causing pressure on these structures then this needs urgent attention to avoid permanent dysfunction being caused.

MSK Sports Injury Clinic
Laura Jones
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