Slipped Disc’s Explained – The Dangers, Healing and Management

Slipped Disc aka – Sciatica, Disc herniation, Disc bulge or Radiculopathy

People frequently visit chiropractors, complaining of symptoms, which can point towards a ‘slipped disc’. Symptoms may include:-

  • Back pain

  • Leg tingling, burning or numbness (Sciatica)

  • Neck pain

  • Neck tingling, burning or numbness

Patient may present with one or a combination of the above eg back and leg symptoms, however not everyone has a ‘textbook’ presentation. This is why chiropractors we carry out a thorough neurological examination.

It’s important to identify if symptoms are purely biomechanical, or if a more vulnerable disc bulge aka ‘Slipped Disc’ is present. The disc does not actually slip, instead it bulges out into the path of the spinal cord or nerve root, which can create excruciating pain.

Disc Bulges / Slipped Discs

Disc bulges can be categorised into mild, moderate, severe or  sequestrations. A large bulge or sequestration (where a fragment of disc breaks off the bulge), usually cause more pain and take longer to settle than a mild/moderate bulge. Disc bulges can be serious, requiring careful professional treatment. It is vital the individual respects the fragility of their back, and takes suitable steps to prevent worsening. Avoiding any position or motion that creates pain is wise, which means no lifting for some time. This is a far better than creating a bigger bulge, or potentially facing surgery!

The spinal cord is part of the main ‘motherboard’ returning information to the brain, therefore preserving this structure is vital. A disc bulge can compromise the spinal cord, in a similar way to compressing a hosepipe. A small amount of pressure to a running hosepipe will reduce the flow of water, however a ‘kink’ in the hose pipe will stop the flow altogether, much the same as a disc pressing on the spinal cord or a nerve root. If the spinal cord becomes completely compromised the effects can be catastrophic. No signals will flow to or from below the point of complete compression. It is reported that 90% of disc bulges occur at L4/5 (between Lumbar vertebra 4 & 5), or L5/S1 (between Lumbar vertebra 5 and the Sacrum).

Discs are found throughout the spine from the neck down to the sacrum. There are 7 neck vertebrae (cervical), 12 in the upper back (thoracic) and 5 in the lower back (Lumbar), all with discs between them. Underneath the lumbar vertebra 5 is the sacrum (a triangular shaped bone at the bottom of the spine). The sacrum is slightly different as the spinal cord ‘fans’ out into a structure, known as the ‘Cauda Equina’, which is the Latin for horses tail.

Cauda Equina

A serious condition which we should be aware of is ‘Cauda Equina Syndrome’. This is caused by a severe disc bulge across the lower roots of the spinal cord (Cauda Equina). This condition is a medical emergency and requires immediate decompression in hospital.

Cauda Equina symptoms include:-

  • Lower back pain

  • Leg pain usually in both legs

  • Saddle numbness (you may note a loss of sensation round the bottom when using toilet paper).

  • The inability to control urine flow (incontinence of urine or faecal matter, or being less aware of when you start or stop urinating).

  • Tingling, numbness, burning sensations and/or heaviness

  • Reduced reflexes (as tested by your Chiropractor or healthcare practitioner)

KH Chiropractic & Sports Massage near Aldgate, helps many people with musculoskeletal problems. complaints relating to the muscles, joint and ligaments of the body. People often come in complaining of a ‘slipped disc’ without a proper diagnosis.

When attending the clinic for Chiropractic treatment a full history and examination is carry out to establish a diagnosis. We may even send you for some imaging, such as an X-ray, MRI or Ultrasound. It is important to get the correct diagnosis to make sure you receive appropriate treatment.

Call to book your appointment on 0203 633 0565 or online at

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