These are the most painful and debilitating thing to go wrong in the back. The disc is a fibrous plate that sits between the round bony bodies of the vertebrae. They are fibrous around the outside and jelly like in the middle. Like a doughnut. These cause bigger acute issues when you are younger with bulges and splits. However, the jelly turns to fibre as you go through your 40’s so these are less likely as you get older.
The main problem is that the disc splits, bulges or leaks. This is painful and a decent size bulge can press on the nerves just behind the disc and cause more pain and referred nerve symptoms like pain, pins and needles, weakness and numbness in the leg.
Typical symptoms are a debilitating pain in the lower back and a lot of spasm in the muscles, tightness and pain in the bum and nerve symptoms in the back of the leg.
A RED FLAG:
If you have spine or back pain and experience any change in your bowel or bladder control you should contact your GP or Accident and Emergency immediately for further investigations and / or advice.
Physio treatment has been proven by quality clinical research to be very effective in the treatment of low back pain.
If the back pain does not start to settle in 4-6 days then seek help from your Physiotherapists as well as the GP. There is much that can be done and also ensuring you have the right diagnosis and thus treatment is hugely helpful.
Physiotherapy will constitute a full assessment and manual work to restore ranges and reduce spasm. Mobilisation, manipulation, soft tissue work and neural interface work are all combined to help you.
There will be advice for the self-treatment and a decision as to whether there needs to be referral for investigations such as MRI.
Guidelines for the treatment of lower back pain from NICE (National Institute of Clinical Excellence) show that there is little benefit in an early MRI as it does not alter the treatment of choice which is rest, exercise and Physiotherapy. However, your Physio will help you through this process and communicate with your GP as required.
The key thing here is to remain positive and understand that whilst it is painful they do resolve, you will resume an active life, and you won’t necessarily have a problem for ever.