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Slipped Disc

  • What is a Slipped Disc?

    A slipped disc occurs when the gel covering of a disc in the spine tears (herniates) and shifts, causing the gel to press on the nerve root. This condition is also known as a ‘herniated’, ‘ruptured’ or ‘prolapsed’ disc.

  • A slipped disc is caused by:

    • Degeneration of disc elasticity
    • Excessive strain from physical activities
    • Injury from incorrect lifting (lifting using the back instead of the knees)
  • Symptoms can be felt in the neck, back and limbs. They include:

    • Difficulty controlling bowel movements and urination
    • Numbness in the genitals and anus
    • Pain associated with lower limb movement
    • Pain starting from the lower back and moving to the buttock or leg (sciatica)
    • Tingling or numbness in the back, buttock or leg
  • Treatment of a slipped disc includes:

    • Alternating hot and cold packs to reduce sciatica
    • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and muscle relaxants to treat severe pain
    • Physiotherapy for patients with sciatica (pain from the lower back to the buttock or leg)
    • Rehabilitation programmes to lower the risk of recurrence

    Surgery is not considered early in the treatment as there is a risk of nerve damage during the procedure. Discectomy to remove a portion of the slipped disc will reduce pressure on the nerve.

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