Lumbar Disc Pathology

Lumbar Disc Pathology

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    As a physiotherapist I treat many patients with back and neck pain every day. I have found that patient education is one of the most important treatment modalities. When you understand the condition, it makes the management so much more effective, which extends far beyond the walls of a physio practice.



    Spinal disc herniation is referred to as a “slipped disc” in layman’s terms. This occurs when the intervertebral disc protrudes through the fibrocartilage between two vertebrae, most commonly seen in the low back spine. Medically speaking a disc cannot slip because it is fixed between vertebrae above and below. A disc can only tear or bulge and these are serious conditions which deserves medical attention.

    Early detection of disc pathology is of utmost importance as it can directly influence the prognosis. If it is treated within the first 48 hours of onset the recovery period can be shortened by several weeks.

    Symptoms to look out for:

    • Dull or sharp ache in the back
    • A “catching” pain when standing upright
    • Radiating tingling sensation in the legs
    • Muscle weakness in the extremities
    • Urinary problems

    Early management includes bed rest, anti-inflammatory medication and physiotherapy treatment.

    • Possible causes include: 
- Occupation that require frequent sitting
    • Lifting heavy objects by bending in the back and not in the hips
    • Trauma incidents
    • Wear and tear with age

    If any of the symptoms mentioned persist for 24-48 hours, you should consult your doctor or physiotherapist without hesitation.

    Lené van Heerden
    As a physiotherapist Lené works with people in all walks of life, taking part in almost any and every type of physical activity. More often than not they find themselves in more pain than what you can ever imagine. Working with these people energizes her, but it is also poses a great challenge. Through this she has learnt a lot about the prevention and management of injuries. Lené will be providing trail runners with valuable tips and techniques to avoid injuries and to enhance their performance on the trails! Trail Running is my ticket to switching off my phone, getting dirty and experiencing nature the way it was intended.

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