Osteopathy is an effective treatment for disc problems
that can avoid the need for an operation.
How can osteopathy help disc problems?
As disc bulges are very common, the Osteopaths at the Israel Center for Osteopathy treat such conditions very regularly with over 85% success rate. The Osteopathic treatment decreases the inflammation that surrounds the disc bulge, and improves mobility of the spine in order to decrease the pressure surrounding the disc bulge. This can be done successfully by soft-tissue massage, gentle articulation and mobilization of the joints of the spine and stretching of the muscles in spasm surrounding the spine.
By improving mobility and decreasing the inflammation, a disc bulge will heal at a quicker rate.
Osteopathic treatment will decrease the recovery time, enabling the patient to get back on their feet quickly. The gentle manual treatment provided by the osteopath reduces the muscle spasm, inflammation, and nerve pressure, the primary pain producers. By mobilising the joints and soft tissues, osteopathic treatment aids in the prevention of scar tissue formation around the disc, a factor associated with recurring back pain.
The Israel Center for Osteopathy treats disc problems on a daily basis. An injured disc left untreated will take much longer to heal, and may often become worse, but the body is capable of healing an injured disc without requiring an operation. In most cases a short course of 3-6 treatments together with the right advice is all that is needed to get people on the road to recovery and prevent the problem from reoccurring.
What is a disc?
Instead of the back being one inflexible “pole” of bone, it is divided into 24 vertebrae. In between each vertebrae, is a disc which acts as a shock absorber and provides movement between the vertebrae. It resembles a jam doughnut, in that it has a solid exterior (Annulus fibrosis) with a fluid-like substance on the interior (Nucleus Pulposis) (See Fig. 1). The fluid in the middle of the disc moves forwards and backwards with movement.
What is a “slipped disc”?
Discs do not slip! This is a layman’s term for a herniated (bulging disk) or prolapsed disc. If we take the doughnut analogy, abuse of one’s discs through lifting heavy objects, sitting slouched, or being involved in a serious car accident, cause cracks to form in the “dough” part of the doughnut (the annulus). This causes the fluid to start to leak out (Fig 2) causing a bulge in the disc. As the disc is further mechanically abused the fluid can burst out of the disc putting pressure on the nerve, which lies just behind the disc ( Fig.3 & 4). Now your disk has slipped or prolapsed.
Can a “slipped” disc be put back?
A disc cannot be put back. It is like trying to get toothpaste back into the tube. However with osteopathic treatment the symptoms can be relieved and the recurrence of further back problems prevented.
What symptoms would I experience if I had a slipped disc?
Severe immobilizing lower back pain. After a day or so the pain may radiate into one buttock, down the thigh and calf and into the foot. (Sciatica NB Sciatica is a symptom not a diagnosis. It means pain radiating down the leg.)
Tingling and numbness may be felt in the calf and foot of one leg. There may also be weakness in one foot.
A professional should always diagnose the condition when one experiences severe back pain for more than 2-3 days.
What you can do at home?
At the onset of acute back pain you should:
- rest for 1-2 days in the foetal position (side-lying) or lying on one’s back with knees bent and feet raised with 2 sofa sized pillows under the calves.
- apply an ice pack to the back for 15 minutes (not the leg) , every 2-3 hours for a period of 48-72 hours.
- inquire about anti-inflammatory tablets which can be taken under the guidance of one’s family doctor.
- avoid lifting or sitting on low chairs or sofas and bending as these activities stress the injured disc.
After 24-48 hours manual treatment should be started. Long-term bed rest has been shown to hinder the healing process,