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Do the discs in your #spine ‘slip’?

A slipped or herniated disc is amongst the most debilitating back pain problems – sometimes with added symptoms such as the grinding leg pain of sciatica.  There are many levels of back and neck pain but a herniated or ‘slipped’ disc is one of the most painful and it can cause long-term immobility if it’s not treated correctly.

The spinal disc acts as a solid elastic pivot for each joint segment of the #spine, providing stability and allowing a relatively wide range of motion in all directions in the lower back and neck. When a disc starts to lose its strength and pliability, it can cause a range of painful and potentially debilitating symptoms.

It is a condition where the centre of a spinal disc bulges outwards and presses onto a nerve.  The spinal discs act as shock absorbers and through a variety of causes, including injury, poor posture and general “wear and tear” (meaning gradual deterioration), the walls of the disc can become weaker. If the centre of the disc pushes out, this can cause the disc wall to bulge and that can be when pain strikes!

There are 24 moveable vertebrae on your #spine which are separated from one another by your discs.

When you have a slipped disc, the soft part escapes between the vertebrae and can press on a nerve. The NHS point out that –

A slipped disc (also called a prolapsed or herniated disc) can cause:

  • lower back pain
  • numbness or tingling in your shoulders, back, arms, hands, legs or feet
  • neck pain
  • problems bending or straightening your back
  • muscle weakness
  • pain in the buttocks, hips or legs if the disc is pressing on the sciatic nerve (sciatica)

Each disc consists of a soft inner part surrounded by a fibrous coating. Sometimes the coating gets torn which allows the softer material to bulge out. The pain when the softer material bulges out can be excruciating and this condition is known as ‘a slipped disc‘.

However, discs are tightly attached to the vertebrae and cannot physically ‘slip’ in any way. The actual medical name for this is a ‘spinal disc herniation’.

This type of back problem can settle down after a few days and you may never have the problem again. But some people suffer from this happening on a regular basis which could result in needing an operation to fuse the discs together to stop the bugle.

Another cause could be that the disc is damaged through strain and pressure. If you lift or bend awkwardly or injure your back in an accident this could cause a disc to prolapse.

Smoking, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle could all be factors in a slipped disc as well as sports that involve a lot of weight. It can also happen when you sit or stand for long periods, with your lumbar spine flattened, instead of maintaining it with the correct curve.

Lifting a weight by bending forwards can also put a strain on the front of the disc which can then also force the slipped disc to damage the ligaments of your spine, facet joints or your vertebrae and nearby muscles.

Other causes of a slipped disc include age as our spinal discs degenerate over the years through wear and tear.

There are six ways of dealing with this situation:

1) Pain Killers

2) Manual therapy

3) IDD Therapy

4) Injections

5) Surgery

6) Other options include exercise and acupuncture

Source: Spine Health, NHS


  1. I have a herniated chest, where two ribs are seperated by fat and can’t reconnect – I need an operation when i can lose some weight. It all started from that bad fall i had at at home laST YEAR,2021.


  2. Ouch! It’s funny it’s so commonly referred to as a slipped disk when it’s spinal disc herniation, because it can’t physically ‘slip’. I’m curious how smoking could contribute as a risk factor for it though. Weight and lifestyle make sense, so any little changes could help when it comes to prevention. You’ve given a really good overview of this, Bar. xx


  3. I honestly did not know the reason but I have found it out for you – “smoking contracts capillary vessels that are detached to the bone-disc junction and thereby inhibits the diffusion of nutrition into the disc radically.” Thanks Caz xx


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