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Neurologist for slipped disc

Symptoms and diagnosis

By Neurosurgery Singapore

When should it be considered as slipped disc?

  • Slipped disc requires Neurologist to diagnose. Often pain is pain felt in the back. The back is divided into middle back pain (thoracic), lower back pain (lumbar) or coccydynia (tailbone or sacral pain) based on the segment affected. The spine area is the most common area for pain, as it supports most of the weight in the upper body. Episodes of back pain may be acute, sub-acute, or chronic depending on the duration. The pain may be characterized as a dull ache, shooting or piercing pain, or a burning sensation. Discomfort can radiate into the arms and hands as well as the legs or feet, and may include numbness, or weakness in the legs and arms.

    The majority of back pain seen in primary care is nonspecific with no identifiable causes. Common identifiable causes of back pain include degenerative or traumatic changes to the discs and facets joints, which can then cause secondary pain in the muscles, and nerves, and referred pain to the bones, joints and extremities. Diseases and inflammation of the gallbladder, pancreas, aorta, and kidneys may also cause referred pain in the back. Tumors of the vertebra, neural tissues and adjacent structures can also manifest as back pain.

What are some symptoms related to slipped disc?

Back pain can have many symptoms, including:

  • a dull aching sensation in the lower back
  • a stabbing or shooting pain that can radiate down the leg to the foot
  • an inability to stand up straight without pain
  • a decreased range of motion and diminished ability to flex the back

The symptoms of back pain, if due to strain or misuse, are usually short-lived but can last for days or weeks.

Back pain is chronic when symptoms have been present for longer than three months.

Slipped disc symptoms that may indicate a serious problem

See our neurologist if back pain doesn’t improve within two weeks of developing. There are times when back pain can be a symptom of a serious medical problem.

Symptoms that can indicate a more serious medical problem are:

  • loss of bowel or bladder control
  • numbness, tingling, or weakness in one or both legs
  • onset following trauma, such as a fall or a blow to the back
  • intense, constant pain that gets worse at night
  • presence of unexplained weight loss
  • pain associated with a throbbing sensation in the abdomen
  • presence of fever
“Back pain is common, with about nine out of ten adults experiencing it at some point in their life, and five out of ten working adults having it every year.”  

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What types of treatments?

  • Depending on the type of back pain you have, your doctor might recommend the following:

    • Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers. Take these medications only as directed by our neurologist. Overuse can cause serious side effects. 
    • Muscle relaxants. If mild to moderate back pain doesn’t improve with OTC pain relievers, our doctor might also prescribe a muscle relaxant. Muscle relaxants can make you dizzy and sleepy.
    • Topical pain relievers. These are creams, salves or ointments you rub into your skin at the site of your pain.

      Physical therapy and exercise

      A physical therapist can apply a variety of treatments, such as heat, ultrasound, electrical stimulation and muscle-release techniques, to your back muscles and soft tissues to reduce pain.

      As spine improves, the therapist can teach you exercises to increase your flexibility, strengthen your back and abdominal muscles, and improve your posture. Regular use of these techniques can help keep pain from returning.

      Surgery

      Few people need surgery for back pain. If you have unrelenting pain associated with radiating leg pain or progressive muscle weakness caused by nerve compression, you might benefit from surgery. Otherwise, surgery usually is reserved for pain related to structural problems, such as narrowing of the spine (spinal stenosis) or a herniated disk, that hasn’t responded to other therapy.

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Things to take note if you have back pain

These tips can help ease back pain when it happens. They can also help you prevent back pain in the first place.

Carry less

Heavy briefcases, laptop bags, suitcases, and purses can add unnecessary stress and strain to your neck and spine.

Try to reduce what you need to carry, and use bags that distribute the weight more evenly, such as a backpack. If you can, use a bag with wheels to keep weight off your back entirely.

Work your core

The muscles in and around your abdomen and back help keep you upright and carry you through your physical activities. Strengthening them can also reduce the chances of pain, strain, or damage to your back.

Plug strength-training workouts with a core focus into your regular fitness routine at least twice a week.

Improve your posture

Poor posture can put unnecessary pressure and strain on your spine. Over time, this can lead to pain and damage.

Regularly remind yourself to roll back rounded shoulders and sit upright in your chair.

Change shoes

High-heeled shoes are likely to cause damage to your back if you wear them frequently. Pick comfortable, low-heeled shoes when you can. One inch is a maximum heel height suggestion.

Stretch often

Doing the same thing every day can leave your muscles fatigued and more apt to strain. Stretch regularly to help improve circulation in those muscles and lower the risk of back pain and damage.

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