What is a Slipped Disc?
If I had a dollar for every time someone came to see me and mentioned the words “I think I slipped a disc” I would be a very rich man! The term “slipped disc” suggests that a disc has moved out of position, however this is far from accurate. Discs are held firmly in place by various structures such as ligaments, common muscles, and the Vertebrae themselves. The term “protrusion” or “herniated” describes the situation much better. As the real problem is not that the entire disc slips, this itself is not actually painful, what is the root of the pain is a crack in the tough outer shell of the disc which allows the soft jelly like content to seep out and when this material comes into contact with structures, especially the spinal nerve this can cause nerve root pain (pinching) which may spread to other parts of the body such as the lower back, glute, down one side of the leg or pain from the neck down to the arm.
Each disc’s of the spine are designed to take most of our day-to-day movements and stress loads. As the disc degenerates from age or injury the softer central portion can rupture (herniate). A common location for a herniated disc to occur is between the 4th and 5th lumbar vertebrae in the lower back. This area is consistently absorbing the impact of bearing weight from the upper body, or predisposed to injury from incorrect form when weight lifting. The term disc is short for Intervertebral disc ‘the spongy cushions that separate the Vertebral column of the spine’. The discs have a number of important functions including keeping the Vertebral column stable and giving the Vertebrae pivot points to allow movement as well as shock absorption.
Treatment for Disc Herniation
Clinical diagnosis by a qualified Physiotherapist will focus on the underlying causes of a patient’s back, neck or nerve pain, these will include:
- Physical examination including testing muscle strength
- Analysing symptoms such as Sciatica pain, weakness when raising the big toe and numbness on top of the foot
- CT & MRI scans
Depending of the severity of symptoms, treatment for a herniated disc may include Physiotherapy, anti-inflammatory medications and local injections. In some instances of severe cases surgery may be required as a last option. With some individual cases, Physiotherapy in conjunction with an exercise program can severely influence the need for any surgical interventions, that in our opinion should be the very last option after exhausting all alternative avenues.
We can help you!
If you have been told surgery is your only option and you want a second opinion, our qualified Physiotherapist are experienced in assessing, diagnosing and rehabbing lower back and disc injuries. Take advantage of our GAP FREE INJURY ASSESSMENT by booking online today!