Slip Disc Symptoms

Repair The Cause To Get Rid Of Slip Disc Symptoms!

Slip disc symptoms depend on the severity, presentation, and location. Slipped discs describe a damaged spinal disc that has bulged, prolapsed, protruded, ruptured, herniated, or extruded, compressing the spinal cord or spinal nerves. They can occur in any of the three regions in the spine (cervical, thoracic, and lumbar) but are most common in the cervical and lumbar (neck& lower back). The thoracic spine (upper and mid-back) is not as mobile as the neck or the lower back, and as such, it is rarer to find a slipped disc in the thoracic spine.

Neck and upper back pains are the two most common symptoms of a slipped disc in the neck. Similarly, back pain in the buttocks is the two most common symptoms of a slipped disc in the lower back.

Radiculitis, radiculopathy, or radicular aches and pain describe a range of symptoms produced by nerve impingement of spinal cord compression, including pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in arms and legs. However, a slipped disc may not cause neck or back pain, and in such instances, the pain complaint may be pain, numbness, or weakness in the arms or legs. Therefore, there are instances where radicular symptoms (radiculopathy or radiculitis) are the only complaint in patients with a bulging disc, disc extrusion, or herniated disc types of slipped discs.

Clinically, weakness in the arms or legs is the most problematic radicular symptom of slipped disc. It signifies degenerative nerve changes often linked to partial or complete paralysis of the arms and legs.

Difference Between Radiculopathy, Radiculitis & Radicular Slip Disc Symptoms & Pains

doctor assessing patients slip disc symptoms by comparing it to diagnostic imaging

Radiculopathy results from compression, irritation, and nerve inflammation, producing pain or paresthesia along an irritated, inflamed, or a pinched nerve. In general, radiculopathy, radiculitis, and radicular pains describe similar issues impacting the health and well-being of nerves and the spinal cord. Paresthesia refers to burning, pricking (tingling), or numbness sensations felt in arms, legs, hands, or feet.

Depending on your doctor, radiculopathy can be defined as pain, paresthesia, or weakness in limbs (arms & legs). However, most physicians consider limbing weakness a distinct and separate characteristic or symptom of nerve damage.

Radiculopathies are common with all types of slipped discs, including smaller disc bulges. However, they are the most common symptoms often seen in later stages that are diagnosed as ruptures, herniations, extrusions, and fragmentations or sequestrations. There are three main types of radiculopathies:

  1. Cervical radiculopathy: Results when the neck's spinal cord or spinal nerves are irritated, pinched, or compressed.
  2. Thoracic radiculopathy: Descriptive of the spinal cord or the spinal nerve impingements in the upper or mid-back.
  3. Lumbar or lumbosacral radiculopathy: Caused by pressure, irritation, or compression of nerve roots that exit the lower back from the lower back.

Herniated & Bulging Disc Symptoms In the Neck, Upper Back, Mid-Back & Lower Back?

Depending on its severity, a bulging or herniated slip-disc can cause radicular symptoms of pain or paresthesia (numbness, tingling, prickling, or burning sessions) in both upper or lower extremities.

  1. Slip disc in the neck (cervical spine): Mild to moderate neck slip disc symptoms may include neck and upper back pain with numbness and tingling sensations in the upper back, shoulder blades, shoulders, arms, hands, or fingers. A moderate slipped disc in the neck can cause pain, numbness, tingling, and burning sensation in the neck and upper back, along with radicular symptoms in the upper or lower extremities. A severe slip-disc in the neck is serious as it can lead to dangerous health conditions, including paralysis and organ failure.
  2. Slip disc in the upper & mid-back (thoracic spine): Slipped discs in the thoracic spine (upper and mid-back) because the upper and mid-back are not as mobile as the neck or back. However, a slip-discs in the upper and mid-back leads to thoracalgia (painful upper or mid-back) or pain between ribs (intercostalgia). Severe cord compression may lead to more serious slip disc symptoms such as breathing difficulties, pain, numbness, and tingling in the mid-back, lower back, legs, or feet.
  3. Slip disc in the lower back (lumbar spine or the lumbosacral region: A mild slipped disc in the lower back (lumbar spine) may cause pain or paresthesia in the lower back, buttocks, hips, thighs, legs, feet, or toes. Moderate to severe lower back disc bulges, herniated discs, and disc extrusions may present symptoms similar to a mild slipped disc. Still, they may also cause weakness or paralysis in one or both legs and bowel and bladder issues.

Is There A Link Between Slipped Disc Symptoms & Presentation?

Herniated, protruded, or bulging slip-discs are unique in their presentations and classifications. Representation classified based on a slipped disc's appearance through an MRI is descriptive of:

  1. Degenerative changes in the disc
  2. Tear in the annular fibrosis or annular ligament that holds the disc together

Spinal disc tears are typical by-products of spinal disc degeneration, bulges, protrusions, prolapse, herniations, or extrusions collectively called by the layperson term slip-disc or slipped disc. A torn degenerated slipped disc is perhaps the most concerning as it rapidly progresses, leading to slip disc symptoms such as radiculopathy, paresthesia, weakness, and paralysis. Slip discs that present with moderate or severe disc degeneration are often more symptomatic.

Classification of a slipped disc is based on two main factors:

  1. The severity of the bulging or herniated slipped disc
  2. Type of bulge, protrusion, herniation, or slippage

Are Severe Slipped Disc Symptoms Always Linked To Larger Slip Discs?

Severe back pain or intolerable neck pain can be a symptom of one or more slipped discs. However, severe neck or back pain will not always mean that you suffer from a large disc herniation or extrusions. You can have slipped discs and yet experience zero slipped disc symptoms. Similarly, you can have severe neck pain or back pain issues without damaging your spinal disc. Therefore, slipped disc symptoms need careful assessment, neurological assessments, orthopedic tests, and diagnostic imaging.

Radiological examinations of a bulging protruded or herniated disc is impossible with plain film x-rays. X-rays only visualize the spine's bones, not spinal discs, spinal cord, or spinal nerve. The only mechanism of assessing spinal disc damage with the spinal cord and nerves is through Magnetic Resonance Imaging, known by its acronym, MRI.

The best and most accurate means of assessing spinal discs is through MRI. Radiologists (medical doctors who report on x-rays and MRIs) often use specific words to describe bulging, herniated, ruptured, or extruded discs. In short, the only means of providing a patient with a final slipped disc diagnosis is through Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI.

What Are The Common MRI Classification Of Slipped Discs Based On Type Of Slippage?

MRIs are the "Gold Standard" in spine assessments, especially for patients with slipped disc symptoms. We have provided descriptions of various types of presentations or expressions often seen in patients with slipped discs:

  • Focal: A focal disc herniation describes slippage or protrusions confined to a smaller area. Focal disc herniations or extrusions typically involve less than 25% of the disc's spinal circumference.  
  • Central: A central bulge or herniated disc occurs when the disc slips from the center outwards. 
  • Foraminal & Para-Foraminal: Spinal foramen, or the intervertebral foramen, is the bony opening on the sides of the spine where the spinal nerve comes out on each side. Each spinal motion segment has two foramen (plural for foramina). Foraminal disc bulges and herniation describe spinal discs' lateral or sideways slippage, protrusions, bulges, or herniations.  
  • Broad-Based: Unlike focal herniations, a broad-based slipped disc is often associated with bulges but can also describe protrusions, prolapses, and herniations. Broad-based disc bulges or herniations describe slippage involving over 25% of the spinal disc's circumference.
  • Combination or mixed presentation: A herniated or extruded disc that presents with a combination or mixed presentation is often a larger slipped disc seen in traumatized or chronic conditions where a slipped disc may have been present for several months or years. The two most common combination presentations are:
    1. Broad-based para-foraminal bulges, herniations, or extrusions (slipped discs)
    2. Broadband and foraminal disc bulges, herniation, or extrusion

How To Get Rid Of Slip Disc Symptoms Fast?

neck pain and shoulder pain a common slip disc symptom Some doctors treat only the effects of a bulging or herniated disc; others may treat the cause of a slipped disc. Few treat the cause and effect brought forth by a slipped disc. Treating the results of a slipped disc is often with ice packs, heat packs, painkillers, opioids, steroids, corticosteroid injections, or spine surgery prescribed in stages. 

Treating the effects of slip-discs with painkillers, opioids, steroids, or surgery is a common occurrence that often leads to harmful side effects or more surgeries. For example, if your slipped disc symptoms are not subsided with ice, heat, or painkillers, your doctor may recommend options or steroid injections. When opioids or steroid injections fail, they may recommend surgery. And when surgery fails to eliminate your slipped disc pain or symptoms, they will put you back on painkillers, including opioids, or suggest a second or third surgery.  

NSD Therapy® is the latest holistic treatment for your slipped disc symptoms that rapiers the actual cause of aches & pains without spinal injections or slipped disc surgery; contact us today.

Treating the cause includes therapies or procedures provided for your neck or back that help repair, reverse, and fix damaged tissues or structures of the spine to help stabilize joints and tissues without cutting or surgery. Surgery doesn't repair the cause of a slipped disc or constitutes a cure for a slipped disc or slip disc symptoms, regardless of what doctors may have told you.

Surgery Is Not A Cure For Slip Disc

Getting relief from slip disc symptoms is possible with targeted non-invasive therapies as an alternative to surgery. While surgery can reduce slipped disc symptoms, it will not cure your slipped disc, often returning and requiring additional surgical intervention later, even with successful surgical procedures. A 2017 article published on the Harvard Medical School website recommends avoiding spine surgery for back pain. In this article, Dr. Steven Atlas (a Harvard-affiliated physician) says that spine surgery may help control the pain in some cases to function better. Still, it won't cure your pain — no matter what doctors may promise."

How Can You Eliminate The Cause Of Slip Disc Symptoms?

Getting rid of the cause of slipped sic is better than treating the effects (symptoms alone). Moreover, getting rid of the actual cause eliminates symptoms of slipped discs with lasting relief. To get rid of the cause, you will need holistic and comprehensive treatments that repair muscles, ligaments, joints, and spinal discs holistically without injections or surgery. In addition to holistic therapies, you should make lifestyle changes. Combining lifestyle changes and holistic, non-invasive treatments is the best option for patients wanting lasting relief from their slipped disc symptoms.