If you’re reading this, you probably heard about a disc slip or experiencing that right now. I’m guessing you’ve heard someone say they have back pain because they “slipped discs” or maybe even that they’re getting treatment “to put the disc back in.”
How about these – “I’ve had back pain ever since I slipped a disc”, “Don’t bend over like that, you’ll slip a disc!”, “Don’t lift that, it’ll slip your disc!”, “I can’t do that I’ve got a slipped disc.”
I don’t know about you, but those sound pretty scary to me…
But I’ve got great news for you. Let me help eliminate your fears.
DISCS DON’T SLIP AND THEY SIMPLY CAN NOT SLIP
That’s a pretty bold statement. It probably goes against much of what you were told or led to believe. Let me explain…
About Disc Slips
Discs act like shock absorbers in our spine and they form a joint to hold the vertebrae above and below it together. The discs are not just floating around between the vertebrae. They are firmly attached by bone and cartilage so they can’t just go slipping here and there like a slip and slide. These discs are very strong and are made to take hundreds of pounds of compressive load.
So why do people say they “slipped discs” when it can’t physically happen? Well, the term is sometimes used interchangeably with a disc bulge or disc injury. When and where that all started is uncertain.
But, one thing is for sure, it sounds a lot more threatening to say “slipped a disc” rather than a disc bulge.
Do I Need Surgery Because of Slipped Discs?
One question I was recently asked by a patient was “If I have a disc bulge, does that mean I need to have surgery to fix it?”
I get that question a lot. I relieve many worrisome patients when I tell them NO!
Why? Discs can heal on their own! Yes, you read that correctly.
Discs injuries can heal on their own!
We have a lot of things to concern us and keep us up at night as humans. Don’t let someone telling you that you have a “slipped disc” be one of them.
In fact, a lot of “disc problems” don’t even cause pain. That means, people who don’t have back pain may have disc bulges or degeneration show up on an MRI. More to come on this later in the series.
How Fast Does “Slipped Discs” Heal?
The next question I receive from patients about the dreaded “disc bulge” is “are you able to speed up the recovery of the disc?”
I think this is best explained by going through an example of a case. I just recently worked with a woman named “Sharon” (age 44)…
She recently decided to get back into shape now that her kids are back in school. Sharon attended one of those ‘boot camp’ style classes with some of her neighborhood friends.
She was feeling great and starting to notice the difference with an extra “pep-in-her-step” as well as feeling more confident in last years clothes.
Suddenly, she felt a pull on the left side of her low back that sent a “shock” down the left leg, just above the knee while doing some kettlebell swings at the workout.
She stopped going to the boot camp for 2 weeks because something still felt “off” when trying to do any bending activities.
The doctor told her to take some anti-inflammatories and stretch her hamstrings for 4 weeks and return if there was no change.
4 weeks later, still no relief.
Because it wasn’t just a ‘hamstring’ issue. It turns out she was having some radiculopathy coming from her lumbar spine. Sure the hamstring stretch felt good, but it did not address the underlying issue or help aide the disc healing.
Luckily, she found us through Google and we were able to alleviate her back and leg pain by 75% within 2 weeks by doing 3 simple things…
- Had her set a timer on her phone to remind her to rest while she was running her errands, cleaning the house, cooking meals for the family, and keeping track of her kids.
- She performed some light ‘back extensions’ every hour to help centralize her symptoms and get her out of her normal flexed posture.
- Stop stretching the hamstrings, and instead, focus on proper movement mechanics and stability through the core and hips.
Not only did her pain significantly reduce, she also:
- Returned to her boot camp with her friends to continue her weight loss goals.
- Was able to sleep at night without the deep and achy pain, allowing her to get her kids up and ready for school.
- Able to do all of this without having to take painkillers.
Keep in mind the body is capable of healing. It is important to put it in the best environment to heal!
For each and every person, the root cause of pain can be quite different, and what may have worked for Sharon, may not be right for you! If you try some of these movements, or strategies, and you feel it is making your symptoms worse, then I URGE you to stop, and instead, send me an email at [email protected]and I will do my best to help guide you through this process!
If you want MORE information about how to not only get rid of your back pain, but fix it for GOOD, check out this free guide I created entitled: 8 Tips To End Back Pain Permanently…Without Painkillers.
Stay tuned for more information about the stable spine!
Steven Alexander Doctor of Physical Therapy
P.S. if you ever have ANY questions, would like me to clarify about a topic, and/or would like to talk about any specific problems you may be having, please send me an email at [email protected] and I’ll be happy to respond to your question(s) promptly!