The “discs” are the cushions of the spine and are located between each vertebra. They are strong and flexible allowing movement of the spine. They also act as a shock absorber and transmit loads up and down the spine. When one disc is injured, it can bulge, like when you squeeze a balloon between your hands. This disc bulge can rub against or compress the nearby nerve root and cause pain and inflammation of the nerves that exit the spine resulting in back pain and even leg pain. Disc injuries are actually less common that other back conditions and only account for about 5% of all back related to disc injuries. And fortunately only about 5% of them need surgery. The term “slipped disc” is often used as a blanket diagnosis but it is a misleading phrase as discs do not slip.
For a short animation about disc herniations, click here.
Treatment of a disc injury may include physiotherapies such as ultrasound, electric muscle stimulation, myofascial release and ice, as well as chiropractic adjustments. There are many different ways to adjust the spine and I have found that the Flexion Distraction Technique and the gentle Thompson Drop Technique is often the best in the acute and most painful stage of recovery. The techniques used will always be customized to your needs.