Most people have heard of a ‘slipped disc’, but not many know what it means to have one.
When patients come to our clinic, they’ll often ask if we think they have a disc “out of place” and if so, could we please put it back. We sincerely wish it was as simple as that!
Back pain can be debilitating,so don’t hesitate.
So, what do we mean by slipped discs?
The spine is made up of 24 bones arranged on top of one another. The bones are adapted slightly, depending on which part of the spine they belong to. For example, vertebrae in the bottom of the spine, which is otherwise known as the lumbar region, are bigger than those in the neck so they can bear the weight of the body above them.
In between each vertebra are your discs. These discs are cushion-like structures that help to absorb forces that go through the spine. They’re made up of a tough, fibrous connective tissue on the outside and a gel-like substance on the inside.
Most of the time, your discs do a brilliant job of absorbing forces that travel through your spine. They also contribute to the vast amount of movement that your spine is capable of. Without discs, breaking out the ‘worm’ on the dancefloor wouldn’t look nearly as impressive!
However, when these structures become overloaded, the outer layer of the disc can split and, in severe cases, the gel-like substance inside can protrude. Sometimes the protruding disc can press on a nerve as it leaves the spinal cord, and this can result in pain in the limb supplied by that nerve.
So, it’s is not a case of putting a disc back into the spine. Even though popping a disc back into place isn’t an option for us, there’s still a lot that can be done to help relieve pain and encourage healing of the disc.
How can slipped discs be treated?
Thankfully, conservative treatment for herniated discs often has good results. Although if you are in a lot of pain, you may need pain relief tablets from your doctor to start. Massage and physical therapy have been shown to help with pain relief and a return to movement and at Swansea Body Kinetics, we often find that using gentle, passive movement of the spine can help to relieve pain and encourage repair. If you’re in a lot of pain, it can be difficult to keep moving, and so gentle, passive movement is a nice way to get you started.
Often, the muscles in the lower back will spasm and be holding themselves very tight, and we find that massage of these can help them to feel more comfortable and provide some relief. Once the back and leg pain has started to ease off, we always work in conjunction with movement and exercises in a bid to further encourage repair and also hopefully prevent a recurrence of the injury.
Suffering a slipped disc and want to learn more about what we can do for you? Please get in touch! We’ll do our very best to have you doing the worm again in no time!
Don’t just put up with slipped disc pain…
There is no reason why you should put up with discomfort when help is at hand
Call 07540 453 280 or
Murphy, DR., Hurwitz, EL., McGovern, EE. (2009) A non surgical approach to the management of patients with lumbar radiculopathy secondary to herniated disc: A prospective observational cohort study with follow up. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. Vol 32, 9 pp. 723-733.
National Health Service (2014) Slipped disc. [online] available from: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Slipped-disc/Pages/Introduction.aspx [accessed September 2016].