Lower Back Pain? You May Have Disc Problems
Posted on 28th October 2022
We know how horrid it can be to deal with lower back pain, it’s difficult to even do everyday things like carrying shopping and getting in and out of a chair! While back pain is common, your back pain might be from a herniated disc (also called a slipped disc or prolapsed disc). Read on to find out more, and how to fix it.
What's a herniated disc?
A herniated (slipped) disc is when a soft cushion of tissue between the bones in your spine pushes out. It's painful if it presses on nerves. It usually gets better slowly with rest, gentle exercise and painkillers
How to check if it’s a herniated disc
A herniated disc can cause:
lower back pain.
numbness or tingling in your shoulders, back, arms, hands, legs or feet.
problems bending or straightening your back.
pain in the buttocks, hips or legs if the disc is pressing on the sciatic nerve (sciatica)
Not all herniated discs cause symptoms. Many people will never know they have slipped a disc. There are other causes of back pain, but often there’s no obvious reason. Sometimes it’s a result of an injury, such as a sprain or a strain, but back pain is rarely caused by anything serious. While there are benefits of massage for back pain, there are other options you can do in the comfort of your own home.
The McKenzie Method
Robin McKenzie was a physical therapist born in Auckland, New Zealand. He was internationally recognised for his contributions towards musculoskeletal treatment and as an authority figure in the diagnosis and treatment of lower back pain.
McKenzie went on to create the ‘The McKenzie Method’, focusing on evaluating and treating people with lower back pain caused by disc herniation. It’s commonly known as a “slipped disc” to make it easier for patients to accept and understand.
If you’ve had disc problems, it’s highly likely you went on to experience pain down the back of your legs and possibly as far as the base of your foot. If pain travels away from your back, it is known as peripheralisation. The goal of these 4 exercises proposed by McKenzie aims to centralise pain (i.e., bring the pain back up to the centre) and eventually abolish pain entirely.
It's important to note that these exercises are NOT designed to strengthen the muscles in your back. They are designed specifically to target the discs and help you regain movement. This method of treatment is entirely led by your symptoms. You shouldn't progress on to the next exercise until your symptoms begin to move back up your leg. If you have previously experienced pain from disc problems or are currently experiencing similar pain, give these a go!
If you have pain and/or numbness down both legs, please do not attempt these exercises and seek immediate medical advice.
Lying face down
Take deep breaths and relax completely around your low back, hips and legs for 2 – 3 minutes. Repeat 6-8 times per day
This exercise is also recommended in severe episodes of pain as a resting position/emergency position
Lying face down in extension
Begin with exercise 1
Slowly place your elbows under your shoulders and press up into an extended position
Don't go into the pain! Stay in this position for 2-3 minutes.
Attempt this position at least once following exercise 1 and only do so if the pain has reduced from lying face down.
Extension in lying (with a sag)
Progression from the extension on elbow to extension on hands
Take a deep breath in and press up as far as your body permits whilst keeping your groin on the floor
When you reach your limit, breathe out and allow your low back to sag and your belly button to fall towards the floor (sag is the most important part!)
Maintain for 1-2 seconds and lower yourself down. If pain is reducing, hold for longer.
Attempt to extend a little more each time.
Extension in standing
Stand upright with feet slightly apart and place your hands on the small of your back.
Bend backwards as far as you can, using your hands as a pivot point.
It is important that you keep your knees straight!
Maintain for 1-2 seconds and return to standing.
This exercise is recommended as a preventative measure before pain begins if you’re sitting for long periods.
We hope these have been useful and remember to protect yourself by looking after your body!
Do you want to learn to help people with back pain? Contact us today to learn about our courses.
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