see also Back Problems
Rupture of tough outer casing of an intervertebral disc, allowing soft nucleus of disc to protrude and rupture adjacent ligaments or press on a spinal nerve. Discs do not really 'slip'; some 'slipped discs' are in fact herniated discs (only partly ruptured) or prolapsed discs (badly ruptured), but many are Fibrositis, pulled muscles, or Sprains. Discs in lower back are most vulnerable to prolapse since they bear the brunt of injudicious lifting and twisting; unfortunately, unless one is extremely careful, middle and lower back disc injuries tend to recur; discs in the neck (see Neck Problems) usually heal completely.
Pain may come on suddenly, when twisting or lifting, or build up gradually; attempts to straighten back usually increase pain; pains which shoot into the leg, described as Sciatica, indicate that injured disc is lumbar spine at point of entry of sciatic nerve. If there is any weakness, numbness, or tingling in arms or legs, or loss of bladder or bowel control, consult your doctor if there is no improvement in 12 hours. Orthodox treatment includes rest and painkillers, and in bad cases injections of local anaesthetic to numb affected nerves or enzyme injections into injured disc; surgery to remove pressure of disc on nerve is risky, and only undertaken as a last resort.
Gentle manipulation, by a physiotherapist, osteopath, or chiropractor, can help to take pressure off nerves and speed healing. For specific homeopathic remedies, see Back Problems, Sciatica, Neck Problems. For self-help measures, see Back Problems.