Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots

Back pain health centre

Prolapsed disc - Symptoms of a slipped disc

NHS Choices Medical Reference

NHS Choices Logo

Most people who have a slipped disc experience pain which usually begins in the lower back

before

sometimes sp

reading to other parts of the body.

However, some people with a slipped disc do not have any obvious symptoms. This is usually because the part of the disc that bulges out is small or does not press on nerves or spinal cord.

Sciatica

In most cases of slipped disc, pain is caused when part of the disc begins to press on one of the nerves that run along the spine. Parts of the sciatic nerve are most commonly affected.

The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body and is made up of several smaller nerves. It runs from the back of the pelvis, through the buttocks and down the legs to the feet.

Pressure placed on the sciatic nerve can cause:

  • a lasting, aching pain
  • numbness
  • a tingling sensation in one or both legs

These symptoms often start in the lower back and travel down the buttocks, into either of the legs.

Read more about sciatica.

Other nerves

If the slipped disc presses on any of the other nerves that run down your spinal cord, your symptoms may include:

Muscle spasms and paralysis tend to occur in your arms, legs and buttocks. The pain you experience when a disc presses on a nerve is often worse when you put pressure on the nerve. This can happen when you cough, sneeze or sit down.

Cauda equina syndrome

Cauda equina syndrome is a serious condition where the nerves at the very bottom of the spinal cord become compressed. Symptoms include:

  • lower back pain
  • numbness in your groin
  • paralysis of one or both legs
  • rectal pain
  • bowel disturbance
  • inability to pass urine or incontinence
  • pain in the inside of your thighs

You should seek medical assistance immediately if you develop these symptoms. Visit your GP or the accident and emergency (A&E) department of your nearest hospital.

If cauda equina syndrome is not promptly treated, the nerves to your bladder and bowel can become permanently damaged.

Medical Review: April 01, 2012
Next Article:

Mind, body & soul newsletter

Looking after your health and wellbeing.
Sign Up Now!

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Back pain MRI

Back pain MR neurography

Understand how an MR neurography test may help diagnose back pain causes.

Popular Slideshows & Tools on Boots WebMD

woman looking at pregnancy test
Early pregnancy symptoms
donut on plate
The truth about sugar addiction
womans toned abdomen
A workout for a toned tummy
79x79_less_is_more_with_exercise.jpg
Which exercises are safe?
hand extinguishing cigarette
13 best tips to stop smoking
Immune-boosting foods
The role of diet
79x79_not_good_for_you.jpg
18 secrets men want you to know
boy looking at broccoli
Quick tips for feeding picky eaters
hamburger and fries
A guide for beginners
salmon dinner
A diet to boost your mood & energy
polka dot dress on hangar
Lose weight without dieting