Your spine is made up of 26 bones called vertebrae. In between them are soft disks filled with a jelly-like substance. These disks cushion the vertebrae and keep them in place. As you age, the disks dehydrate and degenerate. As they do, they lose their cushioning ability. This can lead to pain if the back is stressed.
Sometimes one of these discs can rupture, known as a herniation. This allows the jelly-like centre of the disk to leak, irritating the nearby nerves. This can cause back pain sometimes radiating down the leg. Other symptoms include numbness, pins and needles and occasionally weakness in the leg.
This jelly-like substance in the middle of the disc can be likened to the jam in a jam doughnut. Every time you bend your spine forward, known as flexing, it pushes the inner disc, like the jam, backwards out towards the nerve roots causing pain, out the back of the doughnut. This is why it usually hurts when sitting or driving – relatively flexed positions. When you bend your spine backwards, known as extending, it pushes the disc forwards back towards its correct position, pushing the jam back into the doughnut. This is why laying on your back or standing is more comfortable.
Initially you will normally require weekly treatment for lumbar disc bulges; this includes gentle spinal mobilisations, deep tissue massage, electrotherapy and a home exercise plan for you to complete between sessions. As symptoms improve, there will be larger intervals between treatments as it can take anywhere up to three months to fully relieve the pain. However, improvement is normally observed within the first month.
Should you be unfortunate enough to sustain an injury, our team of experienced physiotherapists are here to help you at our modern state of the art practice.To make an appointment please contact us on 01279 414959 or visit our contact us page.