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Learn about slipped disc causes and symptoms from the Laser Spine Institute Tampa medical team

A slipped disc is one of the many degenerative spinal conditions that can produce painful and limiting symptoms. While it may sound alarming, a slipped disc is a fairly common condition that most often occurs in the cervical (upper) spine or lumbar (lower) spine, and there are several treatment options that can help you find the relief you are searching for.

Slipped disc definition

While a spinal disc doesn’t actually “slip,” the term slipped disc is commonly used to describe a disc in the spine that has somehow extended beyond its usual boundaries into the spinal canal. This can be the result of a bulge in the outer wall of the disc, or a tear in the disc that allows its inner gel-like contents to escape.

How is a slipped disc diagnosed?

If you are experiencing discomfort related to a neck or back condition, your physician can likely make an accurate diagnosis using a three-step process. First, your medical history is reviewed to see if there are factors that might make you susceptible to a degenerative spine condition such as a slipped disc. Next, your doctor will perform a physical examination to identify the location of your symptoms and test for strength and flexibility. Finally, you will likely undergo a medical imaging procedure to pinpoint the source of your symptoms.

How does a slipped disc occur?

Because the spinal discs serve as shock absorbers between the vertebrae of the spine, they endure a great deal of daily pressure and regular wear and tear. As we grow older, it’s common for spinal discs to become brittle and lose water content, which makes them susceptible to bulges and tears.

Slipped disc symptoms

The majority of people who develop a slipped disc never become aware because the condition often results in no symptoms. However, if a disc or its contents extend into the spinal canal far enough to impact a spinal nerve root or the spinal cord, the resulting symptoms can include localized or radiating pain, muscle weakness, numbness and tingling.

Slipped disc nonsurgical treatment options

Fortunately, there are a variety of treatment methods for those who experience bothersome symptoms from a slipped disc that can be highly effective when utilized daily for several weeks. Your physician may recommend a combination of pain and anti-inflammation medications, physical therapy, epidural steroid injections and stretching exercises. If lifestyle factors such as tobacco use or obesity have contributed to the development of the condition, then behavioral modifications will likely be suggested as well.

Slipped disc surgery at Laser Spine Institute

Surgery should only be considered as a last resort if you’ve tried conservative treatment for several months and haven’t found relief from your symptoms. Fortunately, patients in the Tampa, FL, area and elsewhere can turn to Laser Spine Institute for outpatient surgery to treat a slipped disc. Our minimally invasive spine surgery is often the clinically appropriate first choice and provides many advantages versus open neck or back surgery.^

For more information or to receive a no-cost MRI review* to find out if you are a candidate for one of our procedures, contact us today.