Herniated or Bulging Disc
Commonly referred to as a “slipped disc”, herniated discs occur when disc material starts to push outwards resulting in a protrusion or bulge. In some cases excessive pressure can lead to a tear in the disc wall and leakage of irritating disc substances onto nearby tissues and nerve roots. This leakage can result in both localised and/or referred pain downwards into the buttock, leg and foot. Where the disc herniation is severe it may compress on the nerve root itself causing pain, altered sensation (pins/needles, numbness, burning) and sometimes weakness in the leg.
Causes of Disc Herniation?
There are a number of factors which can affect discs and increase the risk of herniation. Mechanically, a stiff spine that doesn’t move well and/or weakness in the surrounding tissues that support the spine, means that other structures including the discs are forced to withstand greater stresses. This places the discs at a higher risk of injury. Other contributory factors to the deterioration of disc health include poor lifestyle choices such as lack of general exercise, prolonged sitting, smoking, poor dietary habits, and obesity. Additionally poor posture, heavy lifting, bending activities, and history of previous injury can increase susceptibility to disc injuries.
How is disc herniation treated?
The treatment of disc herniation must target both the source and the factors which are contributing to the injury. In mild to moderate cases treatment may involve a combination of joint mobilisation and soft tissue mobilization techniques to help regain pain free movement and the use of correction strengthening and movement correction exercises to prevent re-occurrence.
The term pinched nerve is often used to describe symptoms of nerve pain in the body. Common examples of conditions which are caused by nerve related pain or injury include carpal tunnel syndrome, thoracic outlet syndrome, sciatica, piriformis syndrome. In all of these conditions inflammation or tightness/ spasm in the surrounding muscles and connective tissues leads to the nerve becoming compressed and irritated. Compression of peripheral nerve fibres causes pain and altered sensation (i.e. pins/needles, numbness, weakness) in the areas supplied by the nerve.
How is a pinched nerve treated?
Treatment of a pinched nerve is aimed at releasing the structures which are compressing the nerve such as the muscles and connective tissue. In most cases this involves the use of manual therapy techniques, dry needling and corrective stretches.