If you’ve ever had a ‘slipped disc’, you’ll know the excruciating pain that comes with it.
You could have been lifting a heavy weight and injured yourself, or it could have happened as a result of general wear and tear on the back. However you did it, slipping a disc is extremely unpleasant and can cause agonising pain.
At Fiona Passey Osteopaths, we come across many patients who have disc problems - from slipped discs, to bulging ones, they are a regular complaint that cause misery.
Although the term ‘slipped disc’ is regularly used, it is a misnomer. This is because the disc itself cannot actually slip as it is attached to the vertebrae above and below. Therefore, the terms ‘disc prolapse’ and ‘disc protrusion’ are far more accurate.
What is a disc?
An intervertebral disc is the structure located between the spinal bones (vertebrae). It is made up of two parts: the tough, fibrous outer ring and a gel like, squashy centre. In a normal back, there are 23 discs that separate the vertebrae and act as shock absorbers.
What type of things can contribute to disc problems?
Some back problems are just down to sheer bad luck and genetic disposition. If your close family members have issues with back pain, it may be a red flag of things to come. Taking care of your back before any problems arise may significantly reduce any pain you have in the future.
Many people we see have jobs within heavy duty industries, such as building or gardening. Having a job within a manual industry can increase the risk of back problems because your joints are put under far more strain.
It’s not just those in physical jobs that we see – many people who work in an office environment turn to us for help too. From poorly designed office furniture, to sitting down for eight hours straight, people who work in more sedentary jobs aren’t without their fair share of back problems too.
Being overweight can significantly increase the risk of having back problems, thanks to the extra pressure that’s put on the joints, making them bend and twist into awkward positions. Ensuring that your weight sits within a healthy range can help you ensure that you’re doing all you can to stave off unnecessary wear and tear.
As we age, the natural deterioration and weakening of the spine can cause several degenerative spine conditions, such as disc prolapse or disc protrusion. While the effects of aging are often inescapable, making sure that we take care of our backs when we are younger can offer one of the best insurance policies against painful conditions.
How can osteopathy help a prolapsed or protruding disc?
Although we see many people with prolapsed or protruding discs, it is important that every patient is an individual and that there is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach to osteopathy and back problems. That’s why the osteopathic attitude to care involves an individualised, patient centred approach, with personalised advice and treatment depending on the situation.
One of the things that we often do when we encounter disc problems, is to manipulate the facet joints in the spine to help alleviate some of the mechanical strain that is put on the disc. Contrary to popular belief, we don’t actually ‘put the disc back in’, but focus our attention to ensure that the spine is in the right condition to allow the healing process to happen.
We place great emphasis on educating patients on how to prevent back injuries and how to manage the ones that they already have. Although pain killers can be useful, they don’t always get to the root of the cause or help understand how the problem may have arisen in the first place.
To see how we may be able to help with your disc problems or back pain, please call our Halesowen Osteopathic practice on: 0121 585 8555, or our Wombourne Osteopathic practice on: 01902 894 894, or email us.