Slipped disc, also known as a herniated disc in Singapore, is where your lumbar discs are “pushed out” of their usual location. Lumbar discs can be described as a “cushion” with a gelatinous centre (nucleus pulpous) encapsulated by thick fibrous cartilage (annulus) found between the spaces of your lumbar. They are pertinent in providing shock absorption properties, mobility and flexibility of the spine and avoiding excessive movements.
Consequently, when slipped discs occur, the structural changes in the discs lead to a deviation from their original location, subsequently coming in contact with spinal nerves. In this case, the sciatic nerve. The continuous contact, thus, leads to sciatica, an irritation that occurs along the pathway of your sciatica nerve extending from your lower back to the foot.
Thus, it is important to treat slipped sics and sciatica concurrently. The management of one will relieve the issues presented by the other, subsequently providing a holistic cure to the issue in its entirety.
A slipped disc can be summed as a tear in the annulus (fibrous cartilage), causing the nucleus (inner gelatinous portion) to leak. This may occur in stages or acutely. Regardless of the stage of herniation, one tends to feel the impact of disc herniation and sciatica early on.
Slipped discs can result from an injury from improper movements (excessively twisting the body) or lifting heavy weights. Improper resting posture over a long period may also cause slipped discs as the spaces between your vertebrae become compromised. Additionally, slipped discs may also be due to degeneration that occurs over some time.
Sciatica, on the other hand, is not a condition by itself but rather a secondary symptom stemming from issues such as slipped disc, degenerative disc, bone spurs, or spinal tumours (link to service page). It is fundamentally an irritation of the sciatic nerve due to prolonged compression from disc herniation or abnormal growth in the spine.
Slipped discs can occur anywhere from the top of your spine to the bottom. The location will result in different manifestations of symptoms.
Slipped disc symptoms include:
Sciatica symptoms include:
Yes, slipped discs and sciatica are generally painful conditions. The pain may be worsened at night and when sneezing and coughing. Occasionally, patients have reported sensations of “jolting” akin to electrical shocks when moving. The pain can range from persistent irritation to excruciating, depending on the severity of your condition.
Slipped discs and sciatica can occur to virtually anyone. It is still unknown how much of the prevalent back pain in Singapore is attributed explicitly to slipped discs and sciatica. Risk factors that increase your likelihood of these conditions include:
The diagnosis of slipped discs and sciatica is usually prompt. Diagnostics phases include:
The exact treatment administered varies depending on the severity of your condition. The treatment approach may include:
You can attempt treating slipped discs at home by observing sufficient rest and reducing the pressure placed on your back. For instance, if you work long hours at the desk, investing in an ergonomic set-up could relieve back pressure immensely. Certain stretches may also bring relief to the pressure in your lumbar. However, if your pain worsens, visit a neuro specialist (link to contact us) to prevent exacerbating your condition.
Indications of a healed slipped disc would include a reduction in pain levels. You may also observe improved flexibility of your spine. Generally, you will no longer face symptoms such as pain when sneezing or coughing, and reduced sleep quality from back pain. You may also regain sensation where numbness was previously present. However, you should still practice good posture and caution to avoid recurrence.
To cure sciatica permanently, you need to address the underlying issue. In this case, addressing your slipped discs with the necessary treatment approach will eventually reduce the irritation of your sciatic nerve.
It usually takes up to 12 weeks for symptoms of sciatica to resolve. This depends on how early intervention is introduced, the adjustments you make to your lifestyle and your commitment to recovery.