The human spine is made up of vertabra (bones) and intervertebral discs. There is an intervertebral disc between each vertebra, which act as a shock absorber. Slipped disc is a layman's term used to describe damage to one of the intervertebral discs. The disc is firmly attached to the vertebra, so it does not actually 'slip'. The lining of the disc tears, which results in a bulge / herniation. If the bulge/herniation is large, it can result in a nearby nerve being irritated or compressed. This is commonly referred to as a 'trapped nerve'.
Nerves may be 'trapped' anywhere along the length of the spinal column from the the neck (cervical spine), mid back (thoracic spine) or lower back (lumbar spine). A trapped nerve in the lower back, often results in 'sciatica'. This may produce a range of symptoms including pain, pins and needles, numbness or weakness, usually in one leg. The most common region of the spine to have a slipped disc / trapped nerve is the lower back. This can occur following a seeminly inoccuous movement, such as bending down to pick up a pen from the floor, but it is most common when lifting a heavy weight from the floor.
Initial treatment is focused upon reducing the pain, swelling and irritation caused by the damaged disc/ trapped nerve. This usually includes medication, rest and heat.
Physiotherapy is invaluable in the treatment of these symptoms and return an individual back to their normal level of activity as quickly as possible. Physiotherapy treatments commonly include postural and exercise advice together with pain reliving treatments such as acupuncture, soft tissue massage, spinal manipulation, electrotherapy and heat treatment. A programme of exercises recommended by an experienced physiotherapist can also help prevent the recurrence of symptoms.
We provide all of these treatments at our physiotherapy clinics. Despite the severe pain and significant restriction of movement that is experienced following a slipped disc or trapped nerve, 9 out of 10 people will achieve a full recovery with rest, medication and treatment with an experienced physiotherapist.
Please contact us for more information or to book an appointment at any one of our occupational health clinics.
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The Independent General Practice