A disc prolapse can be extremely debilitating. It is commonly described as a 'slipped disc', although the actual disc does not slip. Your spinal discs are useful for shock absorption as we walk, run and do our daily tasks. However, if they are over burdened and overworked then it can lead to this condition.
What is a slipped disc?
We describe the condition using a toothpaste fluid analogy. The discs in your spine are filled with a toothpaste type fluid which moves around the disc space to provide shock absorption at different sites depending on your position. The fluid is encapsulated around a fibrous wall which prevents the fluid from moving out of the disc.
What does a slipped disc feel like?
Many patients describe that they were simply bending to reach an object and felt a sudden sharp pain in their lower back. Slipped disc symptoms are commonly associated with pins and needles or numbness that travels down one leg. Depending on the segment of the lower back that is affected will determine where you feel the referred pain.
Signs of a slipped disc?
When the discs have been overworked or overloaded due to a particular posture, movement pattern, restrictions or trauma then the fibrous layer around the disc begins to weaken and the toothpaste type fluid can push out to create a bulge. A simple motion like bending forward to pick up a toy can force the fluid to go towards the bulge site and possibly pinch on a nerve that exits around the same segments. At this point all the muscles around the area tighten due to the bodies protective response and you may experience pins and needles or numbness down the back of your leg, commonly known as sciatica.
Treatment for slipped discs
The Osteopathic treatment approach for this type of condition involves firstly understanding the reasons behind why your disc has been taking all the hit. Once we understand the mechanisms by which the disc has been overburdened, we can begin to use gentle corrective exercises alongside hands-on osteopathic techniques to offload the pressure that your body is giving to your lower back discs.