What Exactly Is a Slipped Disc In Your Back?

Slipped Disc Low Back Pain
Watch Out for the Slipped Disc

The dreaded slipped disc in your back pain is something I think most people fear. There are many times a patient will walk into the chiropractors office and say they think they have a slipped disc in their back. They will then say it is the slipped disc that is causing their neck pain or lower back pain.

Today I thought I’d touch on what a slipped disc actually is. It hopefully should help you see if you really do have a problem with the disc in your neck or lower back.

Also if you want to know how bad a slipped disc can be or what type of slipped disc you actually have you can read on below.

The Slipped Disc

The first thing to let you know is that technically it actually is not a slipped disc. What I mean is that ‘slipped disc’ is a laymans term for a prolapsed disc, herniated disc or bulging disc.

A lot of the time because of a sudden neck pain or lower back pain people may think their disc in their back has moved out of place or “slipped”. In a way a spinal disc can move, but to what degree it has moved is important.

Slipped Disc in Back Classification

An MRI scan is the best way to take a picture of the disc between the vertebrae. Here is a great example of a MRI scan of a slipped disc in the neck.

Medically there is a better way to describe a ‘slipped disc‘ from an MRI scan.

It is to describe a problem with a neck or lower back inter-vertebral disc as a:

  1. Disc Bulge – Asymmetric or Symmetric
  2. Disc Herniation – Protrusion or Extrusion

Video of What a Slipped Disc In the Back Looks Like

So as you can see from above that the spinal disc typically degenerates first and then starts to bulge. This is the process where degenerative disc disease will cause the spinal disc to herniate or bulge.

Healthy back discs don’t slip out of place.

If you have a disc herniation then it has been coming for awhile. Sometimes with enough trauma, like a major fall or car accident, will a healthy disc herniate, but this is not the norm.

I’m Confused – Disc Bulge, Disc Herniation, Protrusion …

Don’t worry about knowing the exact disc injury type terminology.

Your chiropractor/doctor/surgeon/radiologist cares more about the exact medical terminology of the slipped disc. You should care if it is the disc bulge or a herniation causing your pinched nerve  or back pain problem.

What it does do though is help you as the patient, to know how severe the problem actually is in the scheme of things. Even a back disc herniation can be classified as mild, moderate or severe.

If you would like to see the more in-depth process of working out what type of spinal disc bulge or spinal disc herniation you may have you can read the Dynamic Chiropractic article “A Synopsis of Nomenclature and Classification of Lumbar Disc Herniation

In the next articles to come I will look more at slipped disc symptoms and slipped disc treatment.

So I hope you have learnt from above:

  • That a slipped disc is either a disc bulge or disc herniation
  • Why your doctor would use the term disc bulge or disc herniation.

Finally you can at least see now that from a MRI scan you could see what type of spinal disc injury you have and how your radiologist will determine how to grade how severe it is.