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Slipped Disc?



A ‘slipped’ disc’ is a term commonly used to describe a disc injury. However, following on from the launch of our ‘Myth Monday’, we know that discs do not slip…!

It is not possible for a spinal disc to ‘slip’ between two vertebrae. Spinal discs are firmly attached and embedded between two vertebra via the cartilaginous end plate.





‘Slipped disc’ is an outdated term that can cause more harm than good. Some people interpret this as the disc sliding around between the bones leading to fear of movement. This is absolutely not the case! More appropriate terms include herniation, protrusion, bulge, extrusion or sequestration.


Following on from our blog last week, ‘Do I need a scan?’ (Click Here), disc problems are frequently seen on MRI scans, but are often not the cause of the problem & are noted as ‘incidental findings’. In the absence of an MRI scan, the disc can be identified as the likely cause of your problem through a thorough examination by one of our Chartered Physiotherapists as there are several key things that would indicate this. Disc problems are indeed very common & are the most common cause of ‘sciatica’ (look out for further blogs on this topic in the future). Even if we suspect the disc is the cause of the problem & there is a confirmed herniation, protrusion, bulge, extrusion or sequestration on MRI, there is no need to panic!


Discs are very good at healing & resolving themselves if you let them. This is most often with a combination of time, specific & general exercise whilst avoiding the things that typically aggravate them & the associated pain. Disc problems leading to sciatica typically take around 3 months to resolve on average, but this process can be greatly facilitated & often accelerated through the correct rehabilitation.


So to conclude, discs don’t slip & the majority of disc injuries heal without surgery, whilst keeping moving is one of the keys to recovery.


For further advice, assessment & treatment, please contact us at Harbourside Physiotherapy.


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