The terms slipped a disc or hips are out are quite misleading terms however are utilised widely in layman speak for injuries. The problem with these terms is that they are quite emotive and can lead patients to believe that their injuries are worse than they are.

When you have hip pain it may be inflammation of the tendon or the bursa – the fluid filled sac that lubricates the hip or even the cartilage. That can cause spasm of the surrounding muscles – specifically the glutes which can make the patient feel like their ‘hips are out.’ This specific term makes the patient imagine that their hip is dislocated from the deep ball and socket joint – a rare presentation – usually reserved for large trauma.

The term slipped a disc is also quite misleading and gives the impression that the disc moves out of it’s position in the spine. Physiotherapists use four levels of disc bulging to describe a disc injury. From grade one where the inner disc puts some slight pressure on the outer layer all the way to grade 4 where the inner material completely protrudes out of the outer layer and pinches nerves causing pain.

Using correct terms to clarify injuries is important so people don’t perceive them to be worse than they are. So for all the discs that have slipped out like a bar of soap in the shower or for all hips that are out to the pub for a drink – have one for me.

1 reply
  1. Kim OLeary
    Kim OLeary says:

    Words can be powerful and the words that we use to describe our injuries if they are emotive can lead us to focus more on them than we should. It is important to utilise the correct terms that don’t convey a catastrophic presentation because then we may believe them ourselves!


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