There are many terms used to describe spinal pathology and its associated pain syndrome, such as “herniated disc,” “slipped disc”, “pinched nerve,” “bulging disc,” etcetera. All are used differently and, at times, interchangeably.
Unfortunately, healthcare professionals do not always agree on a precise definition of any of these terms, and patients may be frustrated when they hear their diagnosis referred to in different terms. The unusually wide range of terms used to describe spinal disc problems (such as ruptured disc, torn disc, slipped disc, collapsed disc, disc protrusion, disc disease, and black disc) can add to the confusion.
Rather than caring about which term is used to describe the disc, it is more useful for patients to gain a clear understanding of the precise medical diagnosis. The “whole picture” is often easily conveyed through a simple picture, diagram, or review of the imaging.
The medical diagnosis identifies the actual cause of the patient’s back pain, leg pain and other symptoms.
Neurosurgeons determine the cause of the patient’s pain through a combination of the following three steps:
Dr. Liechty is a board-certified neurosurgeon specializing in minimally invasive surgical technique. He uses advanced anatomy-conserving technologies and many of the world’s most minimally invasive fusion techniques, allowing for complex procedures to be done through an incision as small 1.5 centimeters.