Lumbar discs are found in between the vertebral bodies of the spine and they are normal structures of the back. However, they are commonly blamed for low back pain, particularly when the inner substance of the disc (nucleus) protrudes through the annulus into the space of the spinal canal. They are inherently strong structures!
Disc pain can present in different ways and often patients will have a combination but not all of the following symptoms:
Low back pain +/- leg symptoms.
Pain that is aggravated with prolonged sitting, forward bending, lifting, sitting to standing, coughing or sneezing.
Symptoms that are worse the day following injury.
Often people report the injury occurred while bending over and rotating the back.
Treatment - Disc Physiotherapy
Physiotherapy is very useful in settling this type of pain and your physiotherapist will be able to provide advice on how to best manage your back pain. They may use a combination of taping, mobilisation, soft tissue and exercise to help decrease your pain and improve your function.
Discs have received a bad reputation over time of being an unstable structure, that 'slips' or moves in and out of position. THIS IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE! They do an amazing job allowing us to move.
People often fear the worst when they hear their doctor or physiotherapist mention the words ‘disc’. However, MRI studies have been done where healthy individuals with no pain have been scanned and they have bulging discs, and some people who have had ongoing pain on scan have no bulging discs. The presence of a bulging disc on MRI may or may not correlate with your symptoms and it is your symptoms that matter most to us. Main message is to not stress about what the imaging shows you, and treat the presenting symptoms and dysfunction. We don't treat pictures, we treat you!
I've had a bad back for years, can you help me?
Absolutely. We'll do everything we can to help you. Just because it's been sore for years, doesn't mean it's not able to improve. Many years of research and progressions in imaging technology have not really improved the incidence or prevalence of low back pain in the community. At Melbourne Sports Physiotherapy, we take a very practical approach to treating low back pain. Keeping it simple has been our best treatment philosophy for low back pain, combined with following what the current medical research tells us.