When categorizing the types of slipped discs according to their location in the spinal column, the three main spinal sections to discuss are the cervical (upper), thoracic (middle) and lumbar (lower) regions.
Slipped disc is a nonmedical term that is often used to describe spine conditions like herniated or bulging discs. These conditions are not necessarily painful, with symptoms usually being the result of displaced disc material pressing against a nerve. This nerve compression disrupts the nerve’s ability to send signals between the brain and the rest of the body, sending sensations of pain, weakness, numbness and tingling radiating down the nerve pathway.
The location of the slipped disc on the spinal column will have an effect on where the symptoms are experienced.
Cervical slipped discs
Ruptured or bulging cervical discs, as well as other degenerative spine conditions, can compress the nerve roots that serve the head, neck, shoulders, arms and hands. Because these nerves exit the spinal column through small openings between the cervical vertebrae, even a slightly protruded or herniated cervical disc can compress one of the nerve roots in this compact environment.
Thoracic slipped discs
Connected to the rib cage, the thoracic spine enjoys greater support and bends less than other parts of the spine and this stability minimizes the risk of damage to the thoracic discs. Compared to the more common types of slipped discs, such as herniated cervical and lumbar discs, disc conditions in the thoracic spine are rarer.
Lumbar slipped discs
Because the lumbar spine bears substantial weight and bends in many different directions, lumbar discs very commonly develop issues. A herniated or bulging lumbar disc can cause lower back pain where the tear occurs, as well as cause symptoms in the lower parts of the body that the lumbar nerves serve. For instance, compression of the sciatic nerve, which starts in the lower back and branches into the pelvic region before it splits and travels down both legs, can send pain and numbness radiating down into the lower extremities.
Treatment for disc conditions
Conservative treatments like physical therapy and spinal injections are often effective for the treatment of disc conditions upon diagnosis. Surgery can become a serious consideration if weeks and months have gone by without delivering the relief required for a good quality of life. Patients exploring surgery should contact USA Spine Care today to learn how our minimally invasive spine surgery can offer lasting relief from a wide range of spine conditions.
We are happy to provide a free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.
Browse Related Resources