Herniated disc / Slipped disc / Bulging disc
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.
First, let’s begin by explaining 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. They also allow for mobility in the spine and are super important for overall spinal health. Without spinal discs, early onset of arthritis will occur.
The term ‘herniated’ or ‘slipped’ disc came about when we believed the disc would actually slip out from the spinal column and press onto a nerve, causing pain in the lower back or down into the legs. This could cause debilitating pain resulting in surgery. Early surgery aimed at reducing the contact of the disc onto the nerve by removing as much of the disc as possible. We soon found out that this was not a suitable method as further problems such as arthritis occurred.
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, it is more likely that we are incorrect with our diagnosis. We are just guessing and there are too many factors to consider to be 100% certain of a decision.
Even if you have a herniated disc I really couldn’t care less other than if you present the following:
- Poor general health
- Nighttime 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
Why? The above list provides reasons as to why we might refer on for further investigation. If these are not present, then in most cases you are more likely to respond better to treatment with a therapist than to opt for surgery.
Furthermore, sending you for a scan tells us little more than what we should be able to work out based on a subjective and objective assessment. Scans can provide inconsistent findings. 1 in 3 of us will show up as having a ‘bulging disc’ on a scan, with or without symptoms. So therefore we cannot rely on scans to help with our back pain other than to rule out more sinister problems.
So what now?
- Rule out serious issues you may have by speaking with your therapist
- See your sports therapist and allow them to carry out a full and detailed subjective and objective examination
- Your therapist with then plan out what they think they could improve by working with your movement
- Human movement will fix you, NOT MACHINES
Yes, as in improving your overall movement where deficiencies are present such as pain. The human body is fantastic at fixing itself. Movement allows for blood flow and nutrients to help heal damaged tissue and help improve strength. It’s important to get you moving in pain free ranges as quickly as possible to help the healing process and reduce your fear avoidance. This is done on such an individual basis but in my next blog I’m going to show you some strategies that might help.
If you can’t wait that long, then please get in touch. Tell me what you are suffering with and I will do my best to help. Injury Active have clinics in Cambridge, Saffron Walden and Bishops Stortford should you want to book in with one of our sports therapists. To do so, please follow the link here.