What is a disc and what does it do?
Discs are found between the vertebra throughout the spine, from the neck to low back and act as Shock absorbers. They are bigger in the lower back as they have to absorb more shock and smaller in the neck. Disc problems can cause low back pain and sciatica as well as neck pain and arm pain.
Many people have been told they have a “slipped disc” or that they have a “disc out”. Well strictly speaking this is not true. In actual fact what actually happens is that the middle bit of the disc can leak out into the outer part and this causes the disc to bulge. There are pain receptors in the outer part of the disc and this is a common cause of back pain. If the bulging disc happens to push on a nerve then this can cause leg pain if it’s in the low back (often referred to as sciatica) and arm pain if it’s in the neck.
This can be very painful especially when coughing or sneezing.
What should you do if you have back pain or sciatica?
The first thing is not to worry- many disc problems will settle down and become pain free without any treatment, the important thing is to keep moving and avoid rest. In fact lots of people who are pain free will actually have a bulging disc that would show up on an MRI scan.
However- if you have worsening leg symtoms with pins and needles into the foot and weakness in the leg you need to get a full proper assessment from a professional. Also if you find you cannot control your bowel and bladder or have pins and needles around the crotch area then seek emergency medical advice.
Can it be fixed? What is the treatment?
Treatment for disc problems can include specific exercises (McKenzie), traction, massage on muscles that may have gone into spasm and sometimes manipulation if it’s appropriate. The main focus will be to decrease pain levels and increase mobility. Not all back pain is the same and not all disc problems are the same! That is why it is important to have a thorough examination to determine the best method of treatment. The majority of cases can be treated using manual therapy however sometimes it is necessary to have further investigations such and an MRI scan and a small number will require surgery.
If you are experiencing any back pain or sciatica then come for an assessment at the Prime Chiropractic clinic and what treatment can help your back!