Can a Slipped Disc Cause Nerve Damage?

Back pain and issues can cause discomfort and impact your regular daily activities. It may be inconvenient to go to the doctor and get checked out, but it’s really important to seek medical attention as your pain or injury could lead to permanent damage if its left untreated.


What is a Slipped Disc?

Your spine has a series of bones with gel-like cushions between them. These gel-like cushions are referred to as discs. They have two parts which include the soft part on the inside in addition to a tougher outer ring to withstand the pressure from your bones. The discs are really important as they protect your bones by absorbing any shock coming from walking, lifting, twisting, or any other physical activity.


A slipped disc occurs when the gel-like portion inside protrudes through the thicker, outer ring. A slipped disc can cause a lot of pain and discomfort. If the slipped disc compresses on one of your spinal nerves, you may also experience numbness due to the affected nerve being pinched. If the pinched nerve is left untreated it can cause permanent damage.


Causes of a Slipped Disc

There are multiple factors that may lead to a slipped disc. Below you will find the most common factors.

  • Age: This is a major factor as normal wear and tear and prior injuries can place stress on your body. As you age, the discs begin to lose their protective water content that keeps them both supple and in place. Because of this they are more likely to slip out.
  • Heavy Lifting: Certain movements can create a higher risk for a slipped disc, including twisting or turning to lift something heavy. The pressure can negatively impact your lower back.
  • Overweight: If you are overweight there is an increased risk for a slipped disc. This is because the extra pressure from the weight puts more stress on the discs.


What are the Symptoms of a Slipped Disc?

A slipped disc can occur on any part of your spine. However, the lower back is the most common place people get them. Because your spine is intertwined with bones, nerves, blood vessels, and cartilage, a slipped disc can put intense pressure on all of these parts. Below are some of the common symptoms of a slipped disc.

  • Pain in your back, arms, and legs.
  • Numbness and pain, often only on one side of your body.
  • Pain that worsens at night, with certain movements, or even walking short distances.
  • Muscle weakness and difficulty moving from sitting down to standing up and vice versa.
  • Tingling and aching in the affected area.


Impacts of an Untreated Slipped Disc

If left untreated, a slipped disc can lead to permanent nerve damage. In the most extreme cases, a slipped disc can cut off nerve impulses to certain nerves in your lower back which can lead to loss of bowel and bladder control. Another complication of letting a slipped disc go untreated is referred to as saddle anesthesia. This results in a loss of sensation in your inner thighs, the back of your legs, and around your rectum due to the nerve compression. The important takeaway is that if you feel back pain and it inhibits your regular daily activities, it’s time to see a doctor.


OC Spine Specialists

The specialists at OC Spine Centers believe in carefully customizing patient care and treatment based on your specific condition and individualized needs. If you are experiencing back pain or if you think you may have a slipped disc, contact OC Spine Specialists for a consultation. They will be able to evaluate your medical history and physical condition to provide you with a successful treatment plan. For relief from your back due to a slipped disc, contact the office for an appointment and get back to feeling like yourself again.