Our spine is composed entirely of bones called vertebrae and providing them with cushioning are small discs called the intervertebral discs. Over time, the intervertebral discs can lose their elasticity and will place the spine at a higher risk of injury. Pain in the spinal disc have many different terms, the common ones being “pinched nerve”, “slipped disc” and “slipped herniated disc”. The truth is, all of the terms refer to the same thing. Many patients who suffer from back pain, leg pain and the weakening of the lower core muscles are usually diagnosed as suffering from slipped herniated disc.
Over time as we age, the disc will lose its water content and become less elastic. If the event that it ruptures, the spinal disc will get pushed out of its normal position and if they pinch onto the spinal nerves, it is called slipped herniated disc. Slipped disc can also occur due to other reasons beside ageing such as traumatic injuries or cyclic loading of the spinal area. When the herniated disc pinches onto the spinal nerves, it will affect the normal signalling process of the nerves and can even stop the signals from being passed.
Some common symptoms of a slipped herniated disc include sharp electric shock pain, muscle weakness, loss of bladder or bowel control and numbness. If the pinching of the nerves by the herniated disc causes high pressure, it can cause weird sensation such as a sharp electric shock kind of pain and the pain can travel down from the neck area to the arms and legs. Since there is a loss of signalling functions, the instructions from the brain can be interrupted and that can cause weakening of the muscles. One common way to diagnose this is to test for reflexes. If there is a lag in reflexes, it is a sign of nerve irritation. Another symptom is the loss of bowel and/or bladder function. Since there is an issue with nerve signalling, the body is unable to properly control the bowel and bladder and can cause them to release substances without you wanting to. It can also be the other way round where you wish to urinate or defecate but you are unable to. Another common symptom is numbness of a particular area for a long time as numbness usually indicates nerve damage.
The loss of body functions due to nerve damages can affect our lives greatly and we should always take all precautions to protect our spine. This can be easily done by the usage of protective equipment during high impact sports as well as lifting heavy objects using the correct method.