In between each vertebra (bones of the spine) are cartilaginous discs. A ‘slipped’ or prolapsed disc is where the fibres of the disc weaken allowing the fibres and sometimes the nucleus (middle of the disc) to bulge out. This most commonly occurs in the lower part of the back but can occur in the upper part of the back and neck. This bulge may affect the spinal cord or nerve roots in the spine causing back pain and sometimes pain into the legs or arms.
Prolapsed discs usually occur in patients aged between 30 and 50 due to wear and tear. However, they may occur in younger patients as a result of injury or trauma.
Contrary to many patients belief, it is not possible to ‘push the disc back in’. However, osteopathy can help by reducing the pressure going through that area allowing the disc bulge to slowly retract whilst also reducing the risk of further bulging. Osteopathy, along with ice and exercises, can help to reduce inflammation and toxins within the area, in turn reducing your pain. They can also ensure the surrounding areas of your spine and body are working to their full potential so there is no excess pressure going through the injured part of your spine. An osteopath will be able to reduce the muscle tension surrounding the disc, releasing pressure off the nerves, reducing any radiating pain into the limbs and pain in the back.