Your spinal column is a vital part of your nervous system. Like an expressway, it transmits electrical signals all over your body, so that you can feel certain sensations.
But a slipped disc messes with your nervous system. You may experience pain, numbness, cold or burning sensations even without any external stimulus. That is because when a disc herniates (the proper term for “slip” disc), it may push against a nerve, sending signals to various parts of your body and triggering various uncomfortable, often lasting symptoms.
In extreme cases, slipped discs can cut off the transmission of nerve signals to certain parts of your body entirely, causing issues such as the loss of bowel or bladder control.
If you don’t want to lose your shit, seek help if you experience any of the symptoms described below.
Weakness in certain muscles
Muscle weakness, especially of a specific muscle group, is one of the most serious symptoms of a slipped disc. The herniated disc interferes with the proper functioning of motor nerves, resulting in weak or even unresponsive muscles. You may end up not being able to perform specific actions such as picking up a spoon or squat down because the slipped disc is blocking the neural pathway. This gets in the way of your daily routine because inconveniences as a result of herniation such as dropping things and stumbling may become more common. If left untreated, affected muscle groups may weaken.
Numbness in the limbs
A slipped disc may press on a nerve, causing persistent numbness in the limbs. Some people describe this sensation as “pins and needles”. It feels like the numbness you feel in your legs when you stand up after sitting cross-legged for hours or in your arms when you wake up right after sleeping on your arm. It may also feel like the blood circulation to the limbs are cut off.
Sharp pain in the extremities
Sharp pain that is caused by a slipped disc extends from your back or neck to the hands or feet. If there is a “break” in pain (the pain does not pass the elbows or knees), the pain is unlikely to be caused by a slipped disc. However, if this pain stretches past the elbows or knees, and the pain at the extremities is more intense than at the back or neck, there is a high chance you may have a slipped disc.
Symptoms that worsen with specific movements
Getting into certain position can intensify any abnormal sensations, including pain, numbness or tingles. A good indicator is to gently replicate the movement and see if you do feel the same sensations at the same part of your body. The opposite is also true. If getting into certain position can help alleviate the symptoms, then you should get your back checked.
This also applies to when you lift a heavy load. The strain increases the pressure on the spinal column, further compressing the slipped disc and the nerve root, resulting in more pronounced symptoms.
Pain or numbness on one side of your body
The tendency of a disc to slip to either the left or the right when it herniates result in regionalised pain, particularly on one side of the body. Experiencing symptoms just on one side of the body strongly suggests that it may stem from spinal nerve issues. Regardless if the pain is experienced on both sides or just one side of the body, consult a doctor immediately.
Don’t ignore the signs
While the cause of slipped discs tends to be attributed to impact on the spinal column, it is not an ailment exclusive to active people. Even sitting down for a long time can result in a slipped disc. If you do experience any of the symptoms above, seek professional help immediately.
Before these inconveniences render you invalid, validate the reasons behind your symptoms. We can help diagnose the possible causes of your symptoms and help to improve them with chiropractic. Book an appointment now.
Dr. Jenny Li is the appointed chairman of Medical Committee for NABBA WFF Singapore.