Osteopathic Treatment for a Slipped Disc

This article is by Caroline Jones DO, the osteopath in Islington at the Angel Osteopathic Clinic.

What is a "slipped disc"?

A "slipped disc" or more appropriately, a prolapsed or herniated disc is a common injury that most commonly occurs in the neck or the lower back. It can be caused from wear or tear in the vertebrae, or after heavy lifting, often with twisting or during other activities. The pain is often initially severe locally, and then radiates into the leg or arm.

The discs act like the shock absorbers between the vertebrae, excessive pressure on the disc can cause the central softer part (nucleus pulposus) to be squeezed out causing a tear in the disc capsule (annulus). This prolapsed part of the disc can compress against the adjacent nerve root, and occasionally the spinal cord causing neurological symptoms.

Symptoms of a Slipped Disc

Initially the pain can be very severe, often described as a deep dull ache, but can involve stabbing pain, numbness, pins and needles and or muscle weakness in the corresponding limbs, often exacerbated on certain movements and positions or by coughing and sneezing. In most cases the symptoms tend to settle over a few weeks with the help of pain medication, reduced activities and Osteopathic treatment.

Symptoms from a slipped disc usually completely disappear, however it is very important that the patient be aware of the need to maintain good spinal health with a combination of prescribed exercises, stretches and further maintenance treatment, in order to reduce the risk of symptom reoccurrence and further disc prolapse.

In a minority of patients, symptoms do not improve and occasionally worsen, even after pain medication and conservative treatments. In these cases the patient would be referred to a spinal consultant for further assessment, often involving and MRI scan, and advice on what treatment route is best for them.

Surgery is usually a last resort, unless in a situation where a patient is displaying 'red flag' symptoms of worrying muscle weakness, numbness and/or bladder or bowel disturbances. In these instances, your Osteopath would refer you immediately to a spinal consultant for further investigations.

This article is by Caroline Jones DO, the Osteopath in Islington at the Angel Osteopathic Clinic. If you have back pain or if you think you may have a slipped disc click the link below to make an appointment or alternatively you can contact the osteopath in Islington on 020 7288 2999 to arrange an appointment.

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