Recognizing Slipped Disc Symptoms

November 12, 2012

Recognizing Slipped Disc Symptoms

A slipped disc is also called a herniated disc, herniated nucleus propulsus, prolapsed intervertebral disc or a ruptured disc. But no matter what itÂ’s called, a slipped disc is painful and problematic. Slipped discs are caused by aging, by injuries and by working at jobs that require repetitive motions of the back such as swinging or lifting.

Slipped discs can often be successfully treated if caught early enough. In order to know when to make an appointment with your doctor, physiatrist or orthopedist, you need to recognize the slipped disc symptoms. Sometimes a herniated disc can get better over time by itself with rest and painkillers, but not always. The following slipped disc symptoms can occur on one side or both sides of the body


This may seem obvious, but not everyone with a slipped disc will experience bad or crippling pain. Pain can be located in the neck or down the lower back near the pelvis. Pain can feel like soreness, achiness or a burning sensation. Slipped disc symptoms also include a strange tingling sensation that may feel more like discomfort than pain.

Pain often comes and goes, usually getting worse the more active you become. Some people may have pain get worse when sleeping when they lay down for hours but improves when they sit up. Pain may worsen after sudden movements such as sneezing or laughing. Sitting up can be difficult. Pain may spread down to the buttocks and legs or out into the shoulders and arms. Slipped discs in the neck can cause pain in the arms while slipped discs further down the spine cause leg pains or tingling.


Although at first numbness may seem a vast improvement on pain, numbness causes coordination problems and needs to be checked out by a doctor. Numbness can coincide with pain or tingling sensations or show up by itself. This numbness can start in the neck or lower back and then spread out to other parts of the body, especially the arms and legs.

Numbness can happen to both sides of the body or just one side. Numbness on one side of the body is also a symptom of a trans ischemic attack or “mini-stroke.” If you have never had numbness before, go to a hospital immediately because you may be having a mini-stroke and are at risk of having a full-blown stroke within 24 hours.

Uncommon Symptoms

The three most common slipped disc symptoms are pain, tingling and numbness. But there can be other unusual slipped disc symptoms that your doctor needs to be aware of. These include:

  • Loss of bladder control

  • Loss of bowel control

  • Muscle spasms in the back or limbs

  • Pain in the rectum

  • Pain in the inner thighs

  • Weakness of the limbs that experience pain, numbness or tingling

  • Inability to urinate (contact a doctor immediately)

  • Inability to move one leg or both legs (contact a doctor immediately.)


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