"Slipped Disc" is a misnomer.
It is impossible for the disc to actually slip ... what can "slip" are the vertebrae.
The intervertebral discs are little pads that lie between the vertebrae; each disc has a tough outer ring (annular fibrosis) and a soft gel-like center (nucleus pulposi).
The discs separate the vertebrae and, because they're knitted into the bones, also join them together. They act like little shock absorbers, cushioning the bones so they don't crash against each other as you walk, which would be very painful. Discs help give the spine its curve, flexibility and strength.
The 23 discs in your spine also make up about a third of the length of the spinal column and that's why you are about 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch taller in the morning than you were the night before; the discs flatten out a little after a day of standing and then regain their volume when you sleep.
There are two types of herniations: protrusions and prolapses. A protrusion (or disc bulge) can occur if the nucleus pulposi bulges and pushes the outer ring out of shape.
A prolapse occurs if the nucleus bulges out so much that it actually protrudes through the outer ring of annular fibers. Herniated discs are often referred to as ruptured disc or slipped disc or bulging disc.
If the ruptured disc presses into the spinal cord or puts pressure on nerves, it may cause severe pain that could make sitting, standing, walking, lifting, urinating, defecating, sneezing, coughing and moving nearly impossible. In extreme cases, foot or leg numbness or a loss of muscle control may occur. However, only a small number of those with low-back pain have any disc problems.
While spinal surgery is sometimes necessary, especially in cases of trauma or severe bone, disc and nerve destruction (due to a variety of causes, from infection to cancer), the vast majority of people with low-back pain and/or sciatica never need it.
Failed Back Surgery Syndrome
Of the thousands of surgical procedures done each year for ruptured discs, medical authorities admit that a large number are unnecessary and useless, with many of those who have back surgery in the same or worse pain after the operation. They have Failed Back Surgery Syndrome (FBSS). To make matters worse, if surgery is ineffective the first time, a second or third operation will not help. Even successful operations could cause scar tissue, permanent spinal weakness, distortion and instability. Chiropractic could save many thousands of back pain sufferers from unnecessary spinal surgery each year.
Anyone facing the prospect of spinal surgery should schedule an evaluation with our chiropractors before deciding what to do.