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Disc Herniation

Disc herniations are often wrongly referred to as a 'slipped disc' this is technically incorrect as the actual disc does not move. It is the inner, softer part of the disc that is bulging out of the tougher exterior of the disc. This bulge can then irritate the nerves as they exit the spinal column causing the classic shooting leg pain. 



How do I know if I have a disc injury?


Well, fortunately, they are quite rare, making up just between 1-3% of all lower back pain cases.


  • Usually, patients are between the ages 25-45 this is because the disc is at its most hydrated within this age range.

  • There is a male prevalence with a ratio Male 3:2 Female.

  • Usually a sudden onset of lower back pain & potential leg pain which goes past the knee.

  • Pain may follow heavy lifting but can be from a fairly innocuous activity. 

  • The pain is most commonly described as shooting or electrical type pain. 



What are the symptoms of a disc herniation?


The symptoms vary depending on the severity of the herniation but the most common signs and symptoms are:

  • Electrical type shooting pain that may radiate down the leg to the foot. 

  • Muscle weakness in the lower limb

  • Numbness in the lower limb

  • Tingling in the lower limb

  • Lower back pain

  • Foot drop i.e. struggling to lift your foot upwards to your head.


Will I need surgery if I damage a disc?


Fortunately, most disc herniations do not require surgery. However, if this disc has severely degenerated as well as herniated, it can cause a severe disruption to your everyday life and in this case, surgery might be necessary. 


If you are in the majority that does not need surgery, less invasive treatment will be used to help you make a full recovery. Chiropractors use techniques such as:

  •  Ice / heat therapy

  • Specific stretches and exercises

  • Flexion-distraction technique

  • Ultrasound therapy  

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