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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 typically recommended only if nonsurgical treatment has not relieved painful symptoms, or if patients experience further symptoms such as muscle weakness and difficulty walking.

    Discectomy to remove a portion of the herniated disc will alleviate pressure on the nerve, and the goal of the procedure is to relieve pain and improve leg and back strength.

    Consult an orthopaedic surgeon to determine the treatment method most suitable for you.

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