A slipped disc, commonly known as a herniated disc, occurs when a cushion of tissue between your spine’s bones pulls out. If it pushes on nerves, it is painful. It improves typically gradually with pain relievers, light activity, and rest. A spinal disc has a soft jelly-like core surrounded by a solid rubbery shell (annulus).

Moreover, a slipped disc develops when part of the nucleus pushes through a rip in the annulus. A herniated disc may cause leg or arm weakness, numbness, or discomfort. It may cause no symptoms. Surgery is seldom required to resolve the issue.


A slipped disc in the neck is more frequent than in the lower spine. The symptoms and signs vary depending on the disc’s pushing on a nerve. They generally only affect one side.

  • Weakness
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Leg or arm pain

You may have a slipped disc without symptoms. You may be unaware of your problem until spinal imaging reveals it.


The tenderness of the back will be checked during the physical exam. To find the cause of your discomfort, you may be asked to lay down and move your legs.

Your doctor may also perform a neurological test to find your:

  • muscle strength
  • ability to light touches, vibrations, or pinpricks
  • reflexes
  • walking ability

A medical and physical history generally diagnose a slipped disc. If your doctor suspects another illness or detects affected nerves, they may order the following tests.

Imaging tests

  • CT scan
  • Myelogram
  • X-rays
  • MRI

Nerve tests

Nerve conduction studies and electromyograms assess the efficiency with which electrical impulses travel through nerve tissue. It may aid in determining the area of nerve injury.

  • Nerve conduction study
  • Electromyography (EMG)


Conservative management consists of altering activities to prevent painful movement and taking pain medication, which improves symptoms in most patients within a few days or weeks.

  • Medications. These include cortisone injections, opioids, OTC medications, and muscle relaxers.
  • Therapy. This is used to alleviate your pain.
  • Surgery. Most often, surgeons can only remove the herniated disc. It’s possible that the vertebrae will need to be grafted if they’re unstable.

Furthermore, metal hardware is inserted to give spinal stability during the bone fusion procedure. Rarely, your surgeon may recommend an artificial disc.

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