Discs Don’t Slip!

“I Was Told I Had A Slipped Disk”

This is something I have heard a lot from patients in the past, they were told that by a doctor or a therapist that they had a “slipped” disc in their lower back. Some people have even told me that they have had them put back in by manipulation. This kind of language is frankly a bit lazy and only serves to increase skepticism towards manual treatment.

So What Happens If Not a Slippage?

Lower back pain is often multi-factorial (not due to a single reason ) but the one that we all fear the most is a problem with a disc and this most commonly happens in the Lumbar region. Discs sit between each segment of the spine and help to absorb shock and allow space for neural structures to travel between the spinal vertebrae. The easiest way to think of the disc is like a doughnut , essentially firm on the outside with a spongy material on the inside. The correct term for a slipped disc is a “herniation” in this instance the material on the inside of the disc (the jam) escapes through cracks in the disc. This can be particularly painful if it then touches off a nerve structure which can then cause thins like, pins and needles in your arms or legs, numbness, tingling, and no small amount of pain

Why do discs do this?

Most often a disc herniation will happen when we try to lift something and twist at the same time. The pain can be instantaneous or can build up over time. By the same token many people will feel that they did not do anything at all to cause it to happen. As we age our spine naturally degenerates, this can cause the drying out of the discs and compression of neural structures which can leave us more susceptible to disc herniation. It has been also noted that sitting for long periods during the day (desk based work) can increase the pressures on the spine which can impact on the lower back significantly.

What can I do? Do I need a scan on my back?

Generally speaking if a disc herniates it will heal itself over time though this time frame can range from days to months. Most will resolve within 6 weeks of injury. The majority of people do not require scans, injections or surgery but just a course of physical therapy and the correct advice. Further interventions like this are only necessary in certain circumstances (ie not resolving with treatment or not conforming to usual patterns of injury).

How can an Osteopath help with a herniated disc?

We definitely cant “put it back in” but there is plenty we can do to help to reduce the amount of time you spend suffering. This includes hands on treatment to relax surrounding structures, improve mobility of the spine and reduce any pressure on the nerve structures. Importantly we will prescribe rehabilitative exercises and give the advice you need to reduce the pain and get back to the things you enjoy!

contact us today

Positive Balance Osteopathy
55 Main Street
Co. Wicklow

Mon:  9 – 7pm
Tues:  9 – 7pm
Wed:  9 – 7pm
Thurs:  9 - 6pm
Fri:  9 - 5pm
Sat & Sun:  Closed

tony@positivebalance.ie or call us 085 872 6955