A prolapsed or herniated disc may occur for several reasons. Sometimes with age local structures get worn over time, in other cases trauma may be the cause. Often patient report to the clinic saying, “I just pick up a pen and my back went”. It is not the weight of the pen that is the cause, it is the years of ongoing micro-trauma built up over time that has caused the tissues to weaken. Commonly this occurs at the lower back level, but it may occur anywhere throughout the spine.
Vertebrae are stacked on top of each other in the spine and there are shock absorbers between then and they are the discs. The discs have hard shells on the outside and these are sensitive to pain. Sometimes the discs change in shape and this pushes on a nerve of the back (spinal nerve) causing pain. In some cases, the disc gets irritated and this causes inflammation that in turn irritates the spinal nerve. If the spinal nerve is compromised it may result in altered feeling (pain, pins and needles, burning and loss of feeling) in the limbs it supplies.
Treatment consists of Conservative, Semi-conservative and Interventional treatment. Conservative treatment is what we specialize in at Your Osteopath. Osteopathic treatment would involve manual therapy, exercise regimes and possible needling and electrotherapy techniques if indicated. Medications to assist with pain and inflammation also are part of this regime. Semi-conservative treatment may involve CT guided epidural or nerve root injections of steroids in order to reduce local inflammation. Interventional treatment involves various types of surgery and is considered a last resort.
Most people respond well to conservative treatment and with early intervention and follow up exercises, future episodes may be kept at bay.