Maybe that was a little too strong…
In this short blog, I’m going to tell you why shouldn’t worry if you have a herniated (slipped) disc and how to plan your recovery even if you do. Most of the time this is nothing serious, albeit somewhat uncomfortable/painful.
What a herniated or slipped disc is in the lumbar spine (lower back)?
The lumbar spine consists of 5 spinal bones (L1 to L5). In between each spinal segment, we have the spinal discs which act as shock absorbers to the spine, which allow for mobility, and are crucial for overall spinal health. Without spinal discs, early onset of arthritis will occur.
The term ‘herniated’ or ‘slipped’ disc came about when doctors believed the disc would slip out from the spinal column and press onto a nerve, causing pain in the lower back or down into the legs. A pain so severe that surgery was at times deemed necessary.
Early surgery aimed at reducing the contact of the disc onto the nerve by removing as much of the disc as possible. However, disc removal resulted in further problems such as arthritis.
But luckily for us, medicine moves extremely fast. What we thought then is not what we think now. However, old terms and thought processes still haunt us. Most of us professionals in the medical field certainly do not use the term ‘slipped disc’ as we know this is not true and causes unnecessary fear.
What we do know now is that when clients present to us with lower back pain, we are just guessing our diagnosis as too many factors are at play. And there are too many factors to consider to be 100% certain of a diagnosis.
Even if you had a herniated disc, I would be more concerned if you presented one of the following symptoms:
- Poor general health
- Night-time disturbance (you are being woken by your symptoms or by a fever)
- Night sweats (waking in a pool of sweat)
- Unexplained weight loss
- Loss of power in your leg
- The inability to lift your foot up (drop foot)
- Previous history of cancer
The above list provides reasons as to why we might refer on for further investigation to your GP or a specialist. If these symptoms are not present, then you are more likely to respond better to treatment with a therapist than to opt for surgery.
Sending you for a scan tells us little more than what we can assess at the clinic. Scans can also provide inconsistent findings: 1 out of 3 people will result in having a ‘bulging disc’, with or without symptoms. At Injury Active, we do recommend scans only for ruling out more serious issues and not for addressing back pain symptoms.
So, what should I do if I think I might have a herniated disc?
First, rule out serious issues you may have by booking an appointment with your sports therapist. After explaining your issues and concerns, your therapist will carry out a full and detailed subjective and objective examination. Based on their assessment, a plan will be carried out to improve your symptoms through movement.
Human movement will fix you, NOT MACHINESCraig Hardingham
The human body is fantastic at fixing itself.
Movement allows for blood flow and nutrients to heal damaged tissue and improve strength.
By getting you moving in pain-free ranges as quickly as possible, we’ll set the right foundation for the healing process and reduce your fear avoidance.