What does a slipped disc feel like?

Back Pain Treatment

One of the more common reasons people seek back pain treatment is for a slipped disc. When dealing with a structure as intricate as the spine, the thought of part of it slipping out of place gives patients cause for concern. But for people who experience pain and are not sure if they should seek back pain treatment, it is important to understand what a slipped disc is and what it can feel like.

What is a slipped disc?

Our spines are made up of many vertebrae that support the upper body and encase and protect the spinal cord. In between the vertebrae, there are fluid-filled discs that have a jelly like interior with a firmer outer ring. These discs cushion and keep the vertebrae from rubbing together. When working properly, these discs allow us to move, bend and twist our backs.

If an injury causes the inner fluid to spill out through a tear, that is what is known as a slipped, herniated or ruptured disc. X-rays or an MRI scan can diagnose a slipped disc and inform the most effective back pain treatment options.

What are the symptoms of a slipped disc?

Depending on how and in which direction the fluid spills out from the disc, what you feel may be different from another patient. A herniated disc may have no symptoms at all, but most commonly you could feel:

  • Instability or weakness — If the leaked fluid provides less cushion, it can cause the surrounding muscles to compensate. It can also feel like an uncomfortable twinge when taking a step which indicates an unstable spinal structure.
  • Tingling or numbness — Leaked fluid can put pressure on the spinal nerve. In this case, it can interfere with the spinal cord transmitting signals to the brain. This may also feel like a burning or pins-and-needles sensation in your back.
  • Pain — When the cushion between vertebrae is not fully working, it can allow the bones of the vertebrae to rub together. This can cause pain and inflammation. The pain may feel like an ache or possibly sharp stabbing pains. If the pain is severe enough, immediate medical attention should be sought after for back pain treatment.

Physical therapy for a slipped disc

While minor slipped discs are able to heal on their own with rest and anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy can help more severe herniations. Back pain treatment for slipped discs usually involves strengthening the surrounding muscles to improve stability and reduce future injury.

Whatcom Physical Therapy works with patients to create an individualized plan to help regain their quality of life after an injury. If you believe that you may have a slipped disc and are considering your back pain treatment options, contact us today to schedule your appointment.