Understanding Spinal Disc injury.
The discs are like shock absorbers between the vertebrae. They have a rubbery casing and a jelly like contents. The health of the disc depends on the internal pressure of the disc remaining stable. This will increase if standing correctly erect or lying down and decrease if by compression if posture is in-correct. Such as when slouching, stooping or bending especially if repetitive or prolonged, or by sudden load while in a bent or twisted position.
The discs have few nerve endings and do not give warning when they are under stress, therefore the pain of injury may appear to be sudden and the patient unaware that they have ‘done anything’ to cause it.
Muscles and ligaments will produce pain when fatigued or stretched whereas discs will cause pain as the bulging disc presses on nerves around the spine. There may be pain down the leg, in the feet or numbness, pins & needles or weakness in the muscles.
Diagnosis is made by the clinical picture. Sometimes XRays help, but they do not show the disc accurately. MRI is the most accurate but usually has to be referred by an orthopaedic surgeon and is expensive. Osteopathic tests can give a reasonably accurate estimate of the degree of nerve injury and the rate of improvement.
A bulge of the disc often recovers quickly but can be easily aggravated and lead to a full disc collapse where the fluids burst out of the disc and cause swelling around the nerve, if not carefully managed.
Recovery from a disc injury can be slower than from a muscle or joint injury. Allow a good 6-8 weeks.
To aid recovery:
– Avoid bending, sitting and driving as much as possible. The most comfortable is often lying on your side or back with the knees supported. When getting up from lying down, roll on your side and push up with your hands.
– Exercise by lying on your back and gently rocking with knees drawn to the chest.
– When you can walk, gentle swimming, cycling the legs in water or aqua jogging can help.
– Make sure you sit correctly – no slouching.
– Gentle massage/stretching and Osteopathic treatments can help.
– Anti-inflammatories either herbal orthodox will ease muscle pain but not always nerve pain.
– Taking magnesium will often help as it aids the surrounding
muscles to relax.
Up-dated Nov 2018