The human spine consists of a number of disks that are present in between the bones or vertebrae that comprise the spine. These disks are also referred to as intervertebral disks. On occasion, they might move, rupture or even split. This abnormal condition is termed by the layman as a ‘slip disc’.
The discs have connective tissue, which is a gel like substance surrounding the core. When the disk moves or splits, the surrounding tissue tends to tear, which causes the gel to ooze out, putting pressure on an adjacent nerve or the spinal cord itself.
The gel that oozes out of the herniated tissue can put pressure on an adjacent nerve causing pain, weakness and numbness around the area of the injury or in some other part of the body supplied by the affected nerve. This condition generally occurs in the lower back region but can also happen in the neck. In the neck it is generally characterized by pain in the neck, shoulder or arms, which gets better or worse when the neck is moved.
When the lower back is affected, it can result in pain in the sciatic nerve which is the nerve extending from the buttocks to the knee and further. Tingling, weakness or numbness in any of the regions below the buttocks can also be a sign of this condition. It has to be noted that almost 20% of the patients are unaware of their condition as they have no symptoms.
The chances of a slip disc occurring increase tremendously with age. This is mainly due to the normal degeneration of bones and tissue. Sudden lifting of anything heavy along with twisting or turning can also lead to this condition. Acute trauma to the spine or neck might also result in this condition; however this is not so common.
Regular exercising can go a long way in ensuring a healthy back bone that does not give way easily. However, care should be taken to use proper techniques while doing any strenuous workouts. Improper techniques can do more harm than good.