“Slipped disc” What is it?
The term “slipped disc” is a bit misleading because there is no evidence of physical slippage of the disc. The synonyms are herniated disc or bulging disc. They’re often caused when too much pressure is put on an otherwise healthy spine. Slipped disc symptoms can be quite painful and interfere with normal activities. The symptoms are the result of the disc’s contents pressing against a spinal nerve. Depending on the localisation of the slipped disc, the pain may radiate to the arms or legs and usually is accompanied by numbness and weakness.
What causes a slipped disc?
Slipped discs most often result of disc degeneration. With the age, the spinal discs lose water and become more brittle, making them more prone to tearing or rupturing. A slipped disc can happen from a simple movement like bending or twisting.
There are certain factors that can increase the risk of suffering from a slipped disc. The risk factors include: carrying too much bodyweight, certain activities, and occupations that involve repetitive movement involving the spine, such as lifting, twisting, pushing, pulling, or bending, family history, smoking, sedentary lifestyle.
How can physiotherapy help treat a slipped disc?
Physical therapy plays an important role in herniated disc recovery aiming to focus on the reduction of pain.
Treatment varies depending on the patient’s diagnosis and presenting symptoms.
– Deep tissue massage to reduce muscular tension and spasms.
– Hot and cold therapy
– Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation
– Manual mobilization
– Exercise programme focused on increasing stability of the spine: Core control.
Adjuncts to physiotherapy
– A corticosteroid injection can be utilised to provide significant pain relief: thus enabling a patient to complete a programme of intense physiotherapy. The steroid medication can be injected directly into the affected area of the spine for the relief of inflammation and pain.
Consideration of exercise programme:
A combination of non- pharmacological treatment options is usually enough to relieve the symptoms of a slipped disc alone by focusing on the mechanical stressors.
The plan of exercises depends on the diagnosis and medical history of the patient. In case of a herniated disc, upper Back extension is one the exercises prescribed by the physiotherapist.
When presenting with degenerative disc disease a dynamic lumbar stabilization programme is recommended.