Do discs really 'slip'?

This article is by the physiotherapist in Islignton at the Angel Sports Injury and Physiotherapy Clinic. The article covers:

• Sciatica
• Slipped Disc
• Disc bulge
• Trapped nerve

Educating patients is very important. I want the patient to go away from the session with a specific diagnosis as to what their problem is and to go away with an understanding of the treatment plan I have given them. The number if times I have talked to patients who have seen other practitioners an they have not been told what is wrong with them before consenting to treatment is staggering and hopefully none of my patients would say that after seeing me.

Do discs slip?

Intervertebral disc pain is common. Most patients have some component of disc pain when they present at the clinic even if they do not have nerve root pain. Most commonly the patient will have an inflamed disc on one side and maybe a bulge, this may or may not compress a nerve root. With the unlucky few that have a herniated disc there is no doubt that they have a trapped nerve as they often have shooting pain or sciatic pain down the back of the leg into the foot.


The sciatic nerve isn’t a specific nerve. It is the name given to the fourth lumbar nerve, fifth lumber nerve and the first to third sacral nerves. Sciatica isn’t a diagnosis but is more of a descriptive term but most patients understand it!

Trapped Nerve

This is where it all gets a bit more specific and should be part of the diagnosis. Each of the lumber nerves supplies a specific area of skin, a dermatome. Each nerve goes on to supply a specific reflex and a specific muscle. Testing reflexes, testing muscle strength and determining the area of sensation change provides specific location of the ‘trapped nerve’ and this locates the specific disc. Then you can have a diagnosis and a treatment plan.

If you ever go to see a GP or other practitioner always get a specific diagnosis. An expert will be able to give a specific diagnosis so don’t settle for anything less!

If you have back pain and you think you may have a slipped disc and you require physiotherapy in Islington click below to make an appointment with the the physiotherapist at Islignton's Angel Sports Injury and Physiotherapy Clinic.

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