What is “Slip disc” ? Is it a serious problem ?

The spine is made up of many bones called vertebrae. These are roughly circular and between each vertebra is a disc. The discs are made of strong rubber-like tissue, which allows the spine to be fairly flexible. A disc does not actually slip. What happens is that part of the inner softer part of the disc bulges out through a weakness in the outer part of the disc. This is more technically known as “prolapsed disc”. The bulging disc may press on nearby structures such as a nerve coming from the spinal cord. Some inflammation also develops around the prolapsed part of the disc. The seriousness of the condition depends on the nerves being pressed by the prolapsed disc. Although , any disc in the spine can prolapse, most prolapsed discs occur in the lumbar part of the spine (lower back). The size of the prolapse can vary. As a rule, the larger the prolapse, the more severe the symptoms are likely to be.
Bulging discs are extremely common. The incidence of significant disc changes on an MRI scan is almost identical to the age of the patient. For example, if one hundred 40-year old patients underwent MRIs of the cervical spine, approximately 40% of them would show some degenerative disc changes. While these changes are technically abnormal, they are extremely common and occur as a consequence of the normal aging process. These are not at all serious.

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