19 Feb DISC PROLAPSED (SLIPPED DISC)
The human spine is made up of a number of small bones called vertebrae. Between each vertebra is a disc made of a strong, rubber-like material which enables the spine to be as flexible as it is. Each disc has a soft jellylike centre, called the nucleus pulposus, which is protected by a stronger fibrous outer ring.
The discs join the vertebrae together to form the spine and serve as shock absorbers. Over time, the disc loses its fluid and decreases in height, thereby reducing its shock absorption capability. This causes small cracks in the disc’s outer ring and if placed under strain, the disc may be forced out of shape. Continuous strain on the disc may and result in the inner nucleus pulposus) bulging out (herniates) through the weaknesses in the outer walls, causing a “prolapsed” or “slipped” disc.
A bulging disc can press on spinal structures such as nerves from the spinal cord and this may cause numbness, tingling, pain or a loss of power in the arms or legs (depending on whether the prolapse occurs in the neck, upper or lower back). In severe cases, some cases, a prolapse can cause compression of the spinal cord and will necessitate urgent medical attention.
While any disc in the spine can prolapse, it is most common in the lumbar spine (lower back). The size of a prolapse can vary and the symptoms experienced are typically more severe the larger the prolapse. The condition is most common between the ages of 30 and 50 years and affects approximately half as many women as it does men.
The primary triggers include, but are not limited to; frequent heavy lifting, poor posture when sitting, being overweight, being overweight, smoking, and a lack of physical exercise or activity.
When a disc has sustained physical damage through a protrusion, strain or prolapse, the disc will take time to repair. An osteopath will aim to facilitate the body’s own healing mechanisms to return the patient to normal functioning and health as quickly as possible. To do so, the osteopath may use various techniques, depending on the severity of the case. These include applying traction and decompression to the identified problem area to improve blood flow and reduce inflammation. Massage is used to reduce spasms and improve the patient’s range of movement in the problem area. Massage stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which helps the patient to relax, thereby facilitating healing and recovery.
A medical approach involving some combination of painkillers, anti-inflammatories and/or muscle relaxants may work well in conjunction with an osteopathic approach to bring relief to the patient more quickly.
To further manage the problem at home, an osteopath may advise the patient on maintaining the correct posture, the application of heat or ice to the affected area, appropriate exercises and stretches, etc. to facilitate the healing process and reduce the likelihood of recurrence.
A slipped disc specialist in Camberley can help resolve your prolapsed disc issue. We are also available in Frimley & Guildford. Improve your quality of life today.
Cram Osteopaths. 2019. Don’t Let A Slipped Disc Ruin Your Life: Osteopathy Can Help You. [online] Available at: <https://www.cramosteopaths.co.uk/2019/09/> [Accessed 17 January 2021].
Essential Osteopathy. 2018. Slipped Discs. [online] Available at: <https://www.essentialosteopathy.co.uk/blog/back-pain/slipped-discs/> [Accessed 19 January 2021].
NHS. n.d. Slipped Disc. [online] Available at: <https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/slipped-disc/> [Accessed 20 January 2021].