Do I Have a Slipped Disc?

A slipped disc, better known as a herniated disc, occurs when the inner portion of disc protrudes out, hitting a spinal nerve. It is possible to have a herniated disc with no symptoms, but it is pain or physical changes that make you wonder if a disc has indeed “slipped.” Contact a skilled Tampa doctor to discuss your symptoms today.

Herniated Discs

To understand the dynamics of a herniated disc, it is vital to know how discs function in the spinal column. All the vertebrae in the spinal column are cushioned by discs, which absorb the shocks and protect the bones.

A disc consists of a tough outer shell and a soft, gel-like interior. The “slipping” takes place when that tough shell weakens and the interior gel leaks out.

Herniated discs most often occur in the lower back, or lumbar region. They also occur in the cervical spine, or neck.

Herniated Disc Symptoms

Suspect a herniated disc if you suffer any of the following symptoms:

  • Tingling and numbness
  • Leg and arm pain – herniated discs in the back result in leg and buttock pain, while those in the neck cause pain in the shoulders and arms.
  • Muscle weakness
  • Pain worsening at night, or after sitting to standing.

Seek medical attention immediately if you experience bladder or bowel incontinence or a loss of sensation in the back of the legs, thighs, or anal area.

Risk Factors

Older people are at greater risk of herniated discs, since disc degeneration over time is a major cause of herniation. Other factors increasing risk include:

  • Excess weight – weight may stress discs
  • Heredity – if your parents or close family members had herniated discs, you may have a genetic predisposition
  • Occupation – work requiring a lot of heavy lifting and similar physical activity have greater odds of developing a herniated disc

Herniated Disc Diagnosis

A doctor will perform a physical exam, checking neurological function and taking a medical history. For a definite diagnosis of a herniated disc, the doctor may order the use of imaging tests. These include:

  • X-rays
  • CT scans
  • MRIs

Herniated Disc Treatment

Most people recover from herniated disc pain within a few weeks with conservative treatment. This includes the use of over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) such as naproxen or ibuprofen for pain relief and an exercise program for back strengthening. The doctor may recommend physical therapy for some patients, and/or muscle relaxants for relief.

A small percentage of patients diagnosed with herniated discs will need surgery. Minimally invasive surgical procedures lessen downtime and allow for faster healing.

Contact Tampa Back Pain Doctors Today

If you suspect you suffer from a slipped disc, or experience other types of back pain, call a Tampa doctor today and arrange an appointment with to discuss your disc pain.