A herniated disc, also known as a slipped or prolapsed disc, occurs when the cushioning disc between the vertebrae moves out of place, pressing on nearby nerves. This often results in pain and discomfort, commonly referred to as sciatica or radicular pain. While this condition affects 1-3% of adults globally, it is most prevalent in those approaching their 40s, with a higher incidence in men. Factors leading to a herniated disc include:

  • Natural wear and tear due to aging
  • Occupational hazards, especially in physically demanding jobs
  • Hereditary predisposition
  • The impact of diabetes on spinal health
  • Excessive body weight contributing to spinal strain
  • Physical injuries to the back

Symptoms of a Herniated Disc

Individuals with a herniated disc typically report:

  • Pain in the back or hip that extends down the legs
  • Sudden onset of symptoms, particularly after lifting, bending, or a fall
  • Numbness or muscle weakness in the affected area

Initially, back pain may present itself, later progressing to hip pain that travels down the leg.

Diagnosing a Slipped Disc

To confirm a diagnosis and assess the extent of nerve compression, medical professionals often rely on:

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans to visualize the affected area
  • Plain X-ray images for additional structural insights

Effective Treatment Strategies for Lumbar Disc Herniation

Managing a herniated disc can involve a combination of:

  • Modifying daily activities to reduce spinal stress
  • Medication to manage pain and inflammation
  • Physical therapy to strengthen back muscles
  • Epidural steroid injections for pain relief

In cases where conservative treatments are insufficient, approximately one-third of patients may need surgery. Advanced surgical procedures are minimally invasive, such as:

  • Microscope-assisted surgery, utilizing a small incision and a microscope for precision
  • Endoscope-assisted surgery, involving a tiny skin incision and an endoscope for guidance