Bulging Disc

Bulging Disc

Article by John Miller

back-pain

Back Slipped Disc

Bulged Disc, Disc Herniation, Disc Rupture

Your back may suffer an injury to the intervertebral disc that can have numerous terms describing mild to severe disc injuries. Hopefully, this article will explain the differences between the various descriptions used to variations of disc injuries.

What is a Bulging Disc?

back slipped disc

A bulging disc injury is a common spine injury sustained to your spine’s intervertebral disc. It can occur in your lumbar spine (lower back), thoracic spine (upper and mid-back) or cervical spine (neck).

A bulging disc commonly describes a slipped disc or a protruding disc. However, when the disc bulge is significant enough for the disc nucleus to come out of the annulus, it is known as a herniated disc. See diagram.

What is a Spinal Disc?

Spinal discs are the shock-absorbing rings of fibrocartilage and glycoprotein that separate your bony vertebral bodies while allowing movement at each spinal level and enough room for the major spinal nerves to exit from the spinal canal and travel to your limbs.

The outer section of the spinal disc is the annulus. It consists of multi-directional fibrocartilaginous fibre layers. They are all densely packed to create a wall around the glycoprotein filled jelly-like disc nucleus.

Spinal disc injury varies considerably from mild disc strains or internal derangements. The mild-moderate-severe disc bulges through to complete disc rupture and herniation of the nucleus through the annular wall.

The disc centre, the fluid component, or disc nucleus, is like the caramel inside a chocolate bar. It usually moves within the annulus, adjusting to the pressures placed on your spine.

However, if you injure the annulus, the wall weakens, and the nucleus can press outwards on the weakened disc wall, causing your disc to bulge outwards.

A disc bulge (commonly referred to as slipped disc) can press against or irritate the nerve’s exits from the spine. This nerve pinch can cause back pain, spasms, cramping, numbness, pins and needles, or pain in your legs.

What Causes a Bulging Disc?

When a bulging disc, disc herniation or disc rupture occurs, it is typically due to either:

  • a pre-existing weakness in the annulus, or
  • a sudden increase in pressure through the disc, causing fibres of the annulus to tear.

You can group the causes of a spinal disc injury under three headings:

1. Accumulated Microtrauma

Repeated microtrauma over an extended period can lead to disc injury. The best example of accumulated micro trauma is poor posture.

Poor posture when sitting, standing and working stresses your spine. Sustaining a slouching or forward bending of your spine leads to overstretching and weakness of the spinal discs’ posterior fibrocartilage (or annulus). Over time, this leads to inadequate disc integrity and displacement of the disc nucleus fluid posteriorly. This displacement places your spinal joints and nerves under pain-causing pressure.

Your aim to continually maintain a good position includes regular postural change.

Low muscle endurance and posture awareness predispose you to sag back into your old habits during your initial efforts to retrain a good posture. In these instances, it is helpful to note that supportive posture devices such as a lumbar roll, Basset spine support, kinesio taping or a back brace are available to help you maintain a lordotic curve to your lumbar spine during this transition phase.

It would be best to regularly alter any sustained posture to allow your spine to move and remain healthy.

2. Sudden Unexpected Load

Sudden unexpected load to the intervertebral discs can also occur in traumatic situations, e.g., motor vehicle accidents. This excessive load may occur due to the nature of the sudden forces exerted through your body at the time of impact, and your body attempts to repel those forces.

Unexpected load or torsion of a disc can tear the annulus fibres and cause a disc injury. It would be best always to lift any weight using the correct postural lifting principles. Using unsafe lifting techniques, such as bending forward and pulling with your back, may result in sudden and unexpected disc loading.

Ask your physiotherapist about these principles.

3. Genetic Factors

Spinal disc injury does have a genetic predisposition. The deficiencies discovered include a lesser tissue density and increased elastin component of the fibrocartilaginous fibres. These make up the annulus of the intervertebral disc. Other factors that may play a role could be environmental factors such as excess abdominal fat, poor core stability, reduced limb strength, and the nature of occupation (e.g., heavy physical load versus light or no physical pressure).

Overall, genetic factors are mild to moderate contributing factors in disc injuries, and if one does sustain a disc injury, it is rarely ‘genetic’. And you can’t change your genetics. All you can do is be more diligent in your back injury prevention.

Bulging Disc Symptoms

A bulging disc injury is suspected when your back pain is aggravated by:

  • sitting
  • forward bending
  • coughing or sneezing
  • lifting

Sciatica, leg pain, pins and needles, numbness or weakness are commonly associated with more severe disc pathologies.

Altered bladder and bowel function can indicate a severe disc pathology, which should prompt immediate medical assessment.

How is a Bulging Disc Diagnosed?

Your physiotherapist or doctor will suspect a spinal disc injury. They will base your diagnosis upon your injury history and your symptom behaviour. Your physiotherapist will perform clinical tests to confirm a spinal disc injury and detect if you have any signs of nerve compression. The most accurate diagnostic tests to identify your spinal disc injury’s extent are MRI and CT scans.

MRI scans often identify a disc bulge. X-rays do not show acute disc bulging. However, X-rays can show signs of chronic disc injury such as degenerative disc disease and disc narrowing.

Bulging Disc Treatment

Most minor and moderately bulging disc injuries are treated conservatively without surgery. Torn fibres of the annulus will heal, and the disc bulge usually resolves fully. While this occurs, your bulging disc treatment centres on encouraging the fluid to return and remain in the centre of the disc. This rehabilitation keeps the torn fibres closer to one another and the annulus’ structure as healthy as possible.

Your physiotherapist will advise you on the best positions to stay in and potentially tape or brace your spine. They’ll also explain the postures to avoid, which can be detrimental to your recovery.

Maintaining the disc fluid in the central position you intend to stay in, you help Mother Nature lay down its scar tissue optimally for an excellent long-term solution. Please remember that scar tissue formation will take at least six weeks, so the longer you avoid aggravating postures, the better!

PHASE I – Pain Relief & Protection

Managing your pain is usually the main reason you seek treatment for a bulging disc. In truth, it was the final symptom that you developed and should be the first symptom to improve.

Inflammation is the primary short-term reason you have suddenly developed bulging disc symptoms. Ice therapy and techniques or exercises that unload the inflamed structures help.

Your physiotherapist will use an array of treatment tools. They aim to reduce your pain and inflammation. These treatment modalities may include ice, electrotherapy, acupuncture, unloading taping techniques, soft tissue massage, gentle exercise, and a back brace for temporary use. Your doctor may recommend a course of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen.

PHASE II – Bulging Disc Exercises

As your pain and inflammation settle, your physiotherapist will turn their attention to restoring your normal joint alignment and range of motion, muscle length and resting tension, muscle strength and endurance.

Your physiotherapist will commence you on a lower abdominal and core stability program to facilitate your important muscles that dynamically control and stabilise your spine.

Researchers have discovered the importance of your back and abdominal core muscle recruitment patterns. Standard recruitment order of your deeper muscles, then intermediate and superficial muscle firing patterns are typically required to prevent back pain. Your physiotherapist will assess your muscle recruitment pattern and prescribe the best exercises specific to your needs.

Your physiotherapist may recommend a stretching program or a remedial massage to address your tight or shortened muscles. Please ask your physio for their advice.

PHASE III – Restoring Full Function

As your back’s dynamic control improves, your physiotherapist will turn their attention to restoring your normal pelvic and spine alignment and its range of motion during more stressful body positions and postures. They’ll also work on your outer core and leg muscle power.

Depending on your chosen work, sport, or daily living activities, your physiotherapist will aim to restore your function to allow you to return to your desired activities safely. Everyone has different demands for their body that will determine what specific treatment goals you need to achieve. For some, it is merely to walk around the block. Others may wish to run a marathon.

Your physiotherapist will tailor your back rehabilitation to help you achieve your own functional goals.

PHASE IV – Preventing a Recurrence

Back pain does tend to return. The main reason back pain recurs is due to insufficient rehabilitation. In particular, poor compliance with deep abdominal and core muscle exercises. You should continue a version of these exercises routinely a few times per week. Your physiotherapist will assist you in identifying the best activities for you to continue indefinitely.

Your physiotherapist will assess your spine and pelvis biomechanics and correct any defects in addition to your muscle control. It may be as simple as providing you with adjacent muscle exercises or some foot orthotics to address any leg or foot biomechanical faults.

General exercise is a vital component to successfully preventing a recurrence. Your physiotherapist may recommend pilates, yoga, swimming, walking, hydrotherapy or a gym program. These modalities all appear to help back pain. Exercise will assist your back pain relief in the long term.

Bulging Disc Exercises

Your physiotherapist will prescribe the best bulging disc exercises. They will consider your disc bulge location, size, neurological symptoms and the acuteness of your symptoms. Please follow their recommendations to guide you from back pain and back towards your healthy life.

Fine-tuning and maintaining your back stability and function are best achieved by addressing deficits and learning self-management techniques. Your physiotherapist will guide you.

Bulging Disc Recovery Time

Unfortunately, bulging disc injuries are usually not a quick fix. Most bulging disc injuries take several weeks, or even months, to settle.

Bulging discs will also remain weak and vulnerable for at least six weeks, sometimes longer. However, the good news is that most bulging disc injuries will not remain painful for that period. In the early phase, these lingering back sufferers tend to be inadequately managed disc injuries.

The best thing you can do for a suspected bulging disc is seeking professional advice. After your assessment, your back physiotherapist or doctor will be able to provide you with what they would anticipate is your bulging disc recovery time.

What Happens if a Bulging Disc Goes Untreated?

Even if you don’t seek professional treatment, nature will naturally heal your bulging disc. While professional spinal care may fast-track your recovery, most instances of mild bulging discs will heal naturally and may not require treatment. However, patients suffering from a bulging disc commonly seek quicker pain relief. In these instances, please seek out the professional advice of your trusted spinal healthcare practitioner.

How Do You Know If Your Back Pain Is Serious?

1. Loss of Bladder or Bowel Function. There are some bulging disc cases where professional care is essential. These bulges usually are very significant and affect your nerve control involving your bladder or bowels. In some cases, such as when you lose bowel or bladder control, it is deemed an emergency, and you may require immediate surgery. It would be best if you went straight to your nearest emergency department in these instances.

2. Weakness in your limb muscles is a significant concern. If you experience arm, hand, leg or foot weakness, please seek prompt medical assessment.

3. The reduced or altered sensation is your next priority. Mild disc bulges can reduce your ability to feel things touching you, e.g. numbness or pins and needles. If you experience any of the above symptoms, you should seek professional assistance.

4. Referred Pain. Pain in your limbs, e.g. legs (sciatica) or arms (brachialgia), is usually a more significant injury than when experiencing only spinal pain. We recommend that you seek the professional advice of your trusted spinal care practitioner.

5. Spinal Pain. Interestingly, if you are only experiencing spinal pain, bulging discs are generally mild injuries and are most likely to be rehabilitated quickly. Please adhere to low disc pressure postures and exercise accordingly. If in doubt, please seek professional advice.

Spinal Disc Surgery

Surgery is occasionally required. Surgery is an option when a conservative (non-operative) approach does not settle your leg pain. While surgery is usually a last resort, an exception is emergency decompression. Surgical decompression occurs when severe nerve compression affects the function of your bowel or bladder. Or if you experience significant muscle weakness, e.g. foot slap or drop.

Please remember that you may need emergency surgery if you have severe symptoms such as bowel or bladder dysfunction or extreme muscle weakness. Persisting symptoms over six months may require the attention of a surgeon who specialises in treating back pain and sciatica. Please head straight to an emergency department.

More Back Pain Info

Article by John Miller

Youth Spinal Pain

Teenager Neck & Back Pain

teenager back pain

Teenagers can be particularly vulnerable to back pain, mainly due to a combination of high flexibility and low muscle strength and posture control. 

The competitive athlete and most individuals who exercise regularly or maintain fitness and core stability control are less prone to spine injury and problems due to the strength and flexibility of supporting structures. Luckily, issues involving the lower lumbar spine are rare in athletes and account for less than 10% of sports-related injuries. Injuries do occur in contact sports and with repetitive strain sports. Your physiotherapist can assist in the resolution of any deficits in this area.

Sports such as gymnastics, cricket fast bowlers, and tennis have a higher incidence of associated lumbar spine problems related to repetitive twisting and hyper-bending motions.

Spondylolisthesis is a significant concern and needs to be appropriately treated by a physiotherapist interested in these types of injuries. Luckily, most injuries are minor, self-limited, and respond quickly to physiotherapy treatment.

Common Adolescent Spinal Injuries

Lower Back (Lumbar Spine)

Midback (Thoracic Spine)

Neck (Cervical Spine)

Pelvis

For specific advice regarding youth neck or back pain, please seek the professional advice of your trusted spinal physiotherapist or doctor.

Back Pain Info

Youth Injuries

Article by John Miller

What is Back Muscle Pain?

Back muscle pain or its aliases: pulled back muscle, back muscle spasm, torn back muscle or back muscle strain, is very common. Back muscle pain is the most common source of back pain. The good news is that it is also one of the quickest to heal and rehabilitate.

What Causes Back Muscle Pain?

Most causes of low back pain are muscle, ligament or joint-related. Commonly, these muscular strains, ligament sprains, and joint dysfunction arises suddenly during or following physical loading of your spine. Muscle fatigue, excessive loads, high speeds or poor lifting postures are the most common causes.

The causes of pure back pain are numerous but roughly fall into the following categories.

Back Muscle Strains

Muscle pain is the most common source of back pain. Muscle fatigue, excessive loads or poor lifting or sitting postures are the most common problems.

Inefficient, weak, or back muscles that lack endurance or expected contraction timing could lead to reduced joint stabilisation and subsequent injury to your back muscles, ligaments, joints or even spinal discs.

Poor Posture

Poor posture when sitting, standing and lifting at work can place unnecessary stress upon your spine. With muscle fatigue or overstretching, your ligaments and discs can stretch, which puts spinal joint muscles and nerves under pain-causing pressure or strain, resulting in back pain.

Ligament Sprains

Ligaments are the durable, fibrous bands that limit the amount of movement available at each spinal level. Stretching ligaments too far or too quickly will tear them with subsequent bleeding into the surrounding tissues, causing swelling, muscular spasm and pain.

Awkward lifting, sports injuries and motor vehicle accidents are prevalent causes. Just as in other regions of the body, physiotherapy hastens ligament healing and relieves pain so that you can enjoy life again as soon as possible.

What are the Symptoms of Back Muscle Pain?

Back muscle pain symptoms may range from a mild ache to sudden debilitating back pain.

Typical back muscle pain symptoms include:

  • Localised back pain, with no radiation into your buttock or leg.
  • Back muscle tenderness and spasms.
  • Protective back stiffness.
  • Sudden back pain onset.

You will usually feel better when resting and may find a change of position painful, e.g. sit to stand, rolling in bed, walking or bending.

How is Back Muscle Pain Diagnosed?

Differentiating a back muscle strain from a ligament sprain can be difficult, as both injuries show similar symptoms. In general, it doesn't significantly matter what you call the problem because the treatment and prognosis for both back muscular strains and ligament sprains are similar. Most spinal practitioners refer to both injuries as a category called a "Back Strain" or "Musculoligamentous Strain".

X-rays and CT scans do not identify muscle or ligament injury. MRI scan is probably the best diagnostic test to determine the muscle or ligament structures injured.

What is Back Muscle Pain Treatment?

Seek a Professional Diagnosis!

A spinal healthcare practitioner, such as your physiotherapist, should thoroughly; examine you to exclude more severe sources of back pain.

Numerous injuries can cause back pain, and the treatment does vary significantly depending on your diagnosis. Physiotherapy treatment aims to protect your damaged tissue while hastening your muscle and ligament healing and then look at strategies to prevent a recurrence.

Your physiotherapist has some nifty tricks for quickly relieving your back pain so that you can enjoy life again as soon as possible.

Back Pain Info

Article by John Miller

How To Avoid Repeat Back Strain

While it is easier to understand that lifting a heavy load in an awkward position can cause back pain, it's harder to comprehend how a simple movement can hurt your back. Yes, it can happen by merely leaning forwards to pick up your teacup or when bending to brush your teeth! We know that some people are vulnerable to repeated lower back sprains and strains.

The reason is poor local joint control. The main reason for this is inadequate or non-existent muscle activation of the deep core stability muscles. These muscles are small but next to the joint to control excessive slides and glides. The joint can slide too far and strain its supporting ligaments when they don't work correctly. Ouch! That hurts.

The good news is You can quickly correct poor core stability to prevent back pain. Don't hesitate to contact your physio for more information or have your core activation accurately assessed.

High-risk factors of back pain include:

  • sudden forceful movement
  • lifting a heavy object
  • twisting the back
  • coughing or sneezing
  • prolonged sitting with poor posture

More info:

Back Pain Info

Article by John Miller

Suffering Back Pain. What Should You Do?

While lower back pain is commonplace, the diagnosis of the cause of your back pain is specific to you, and therefore, the treatment or investigation pathway varies for each case.

A spinal health care professional can assist you with a prompt diagnosis, early referral, acute and chronic back pain relief, plus long-term self-management or back pain prevention strategies specific to you. You should feel confident that your practitioner has screened you for particular pathologies that require urgent medical attention. They should assess you for neurological deficits such as:

  • loss of bowel or bladder function,
  • leg muscle weakness,
  • loss of sensation,
  • diminished reflexes,
  • and day-to-day operation.

A thorough assessment will determine whether you have radiculopathy or stenosis. This diagnosis is essential since treatment usually differs from NSLBP or radicular pain.

Please consult a musculoskeletal physiotherapist or another spinal healthcare practitioner for specific recommendations.

You probably already know that back pain has a nasty habit of returning within a few months of the initial injury. Research has shown that you have an 80% chance of recurring back pain within 12 months of the first episode. The good news is that you can reduce your chances significantly if you do the right thing early.

What Should You Do When You Suffer Back Pain?

Rest?

The latest research recommends that you only spend a day or two resting in bed. More extended periods cause muscle weakness, making repeat back pain more likely.

Ice or Heat?

We recommend ice treatment for 20 minutes every 2 or 3 hours for the first 48 hours. The ice should help reduce your pain, swelling and back spasms. After a few days, you are safe to use heat packs. We usually recommend avoiding heat (and heat rubs) in the first 48 hours. Heat packs encourage bleeding, which could be detrimental if used too early.

Should You Use a Back Brace?

A back brace can help you to get back on your feet or allow you to return to work sooner. We don't encourage long-term use because research has shown that your stomach and back muscles will weaken as you become reliant on the brace.

What Medication Should You Use?

Your Doctor or Pharmacist may recommend pain relief in the form of paracetamol or an anti-inflammatory. You are best seeking their advice as certain drugs can interfere with other health conditions.

When Should You Commence Physio?

In severe cases, when the slightest movement causes unbelievable pain or spasm, it may be best to wait a day or two to start treatment. This delay will allow the majority of swelling to settle. Slight niggles or "my back feels out" sufferers can usually commence treatment (and maybe fixed) on the day of injury. If you are not sure what to do, please call us for advice. We'll happily guide you in your time of need.

What About Core Stability Training?

The current physiotherapy and fitness training trend is 'core stability training' (back and abdominal muscle control).

What If You Do Nothing?

"Back pain is something you could be suffering needlessly". Research tells us that symptoms lasting longer than three months become habitual and are much harder to solve. The sooner you get on top of your symptoms, the better your outcome and the quicker you'll get back to living your life.

What Results Should You Expect from Physiotherapy?

Not only will your physio diagnose the cause of your pain and give you the "peace of mind" associated, but they'll also help you to:

  • Relieve your pain quicker
  • Cope better with your pain using proven strategies and tips
  • Get you back to work and play faster through improved healing rates.
  • Loosen and strengthen your back with individually prescribed exercises
  • Prevent future bouts of back pain via our holistic back pain management approach

Think about it. Back Pain is Something You Could be Suffering Needlessly.

Please use our expert advice to guide you out of pain quicker and for a lot longer.

If you have any questions regarding your back pain (or any other condition), please call us now to discuss your situation. You'll find our friendly staff happy to point you in the right direction.

Back Pain Info

Article by John Miller

What Are The Most Common Back Injuries?

back pain

Back Muscle Strains

Back muscle injuries are the most common form of back injury. Muscle fatigue, excessive loads or poor lifting postures are the most common problems. Inefficient back muscles can lead to poor joint stabilisation and subsequent injury.

More info: Back Muscle Pain

Ligament Sprains

Ligaments are the strong fibrous bands that limit the amount of movement available at each spinal level. Stretching ligaments too far or too quickly will tear them with subsequent bleeding into the surrounding tissues, causing swelling and pain. Awkward lifting, sports injuries, and motor vehicle accidents are prevalent causes. Just as in other regions of the body, physiotherapy hastens ligament healing and relieves pain so that you can enjoy life again as soon as possible.

More info: Back Ligament Sprains

Bulging Discs

A bulging disc injury is a common spine injury sustained to your spine's intervertebral disc. Spinal discs are the shock-absorbing rings of fibrocartilage and glycoprotein that separate your bony vertebral bodies while allowing movement at each spinal level and enough room for the major spinal nerves to exit from the spinal canal and travel to your limbs.

Your spinal disc is a glycoprotein-filled jelly-like disc nucleus surrounded by a fibrocartilaginous wall, known as an annulus. Your annulus design contains the nucleus, allowing movement between the vertebrae. The annulus consists of several layers of multi-directional fibrocartilaginous fibres. The fibres are all densely packed, forming the outer section of the spinal disc.

A disc bulge (slipped disc) occurs when the annulus weakens and subsequently bulges to press against or irritate the nerve where it exits from the spine. This nerve pinch can cause back pain, spasms, cramping, numbness, pins and needles, or pain in your legs.

More info: Bulging Discs

Bone Injuries

You can also fracture your spine if the force involved is highly traumatic or you have a low bone density (e.g. osteoporosis).

More info:

Poor Posture

Poor posture when sitting, standing or lifting at work can place unnecessary stress on your spine. Muscles fatigue, ligaments overstretch, discs stretch, and spinal joints and nerves under pain-causing pressure.

More info: Poor Posture

Back Pain Info

porto_block name="booking-block"]

Article by John Miller

What Is The Best Treatment for Lower Back Pain?

back pain

Don't you wish there was a magic formula to treat all back pain? But, we are all different and have different causes of our back pain and underlying genetics and general health conditions. All of these factors create potential complications that need to be considered by your healthcare practitioner. While lower back pain treatment will vary depending on your specific diagnosis, your physiotherapist will have the following aims.

Lower Back Pain Treatment Guidelines

PHASE I - Back Pain Relief & Protection

Managing your back pain is why you seek treatment for lower back pain. In truth, it was the final symptom that you developed and should be the first symptom to improve.

Your physiotherapist will use various treatment tools to reduce your pain and inflammation. These include ice, electrotherapy, acupuncture, de-loading taping, and soft tissue massage. A course of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen may also help in this phase.

PHASE II - Restoring Normal ROM and Strength. Early Back Exercises

As your lower back pain and inflammation settles, your lower back pain may feel better. Still, you are more vulnerable to re-injury during this honeymoon period when you don't have pain, but your muscles and ligaments are weak. During this phase, your physiotherapist will turn their attention to restoring your normal lumbar spine motion. Plus, they'll assess your muscle length and resting tension, muscle strength and endurance, proprioception, balance and gait (walking pattern).

Your physiotherapist may commence you on a lower abdominal core stability program to facilitate your important muscles that dynamically control and stabilise your lower back and pelvis. Your physiotherapist will assess your muscle recruitment pattern and prescribe the best back exercises for your specific needs.

PHASE III - Restoring Full Function

Depending on your chosen work, sport or activities, your physiotherapist will aim to restore your back's function to allow you to return to your desired activities safely. Everyone has different demands for their lower back that will determine what specific treatment goals you need to achieve. For some, it is merely to walk around the block. Others may wish to run a marathon or be a fast bowler. Your physiotherapist will tailor your back pain rehabilitation to help you achieve your own functional goals.

PHASE IV - Back Exercises - Preventing a Recurrence

Recurrence of lower back pain can occur. The main reason for repeat episodes s due to insufficient rehabilitation. In particular, poor compliance with deep abdominal core muscle exercises. You should continue a version of these back exercises routinely a few times per week. Your physiotherapist will assist you in identifying the best activities for you to continue indefinitely.

Other Back Pain Treatment Options

Your physiotherapist will discuss many treatment options with you to treat your back pain. Treatment varies based upon the source of your symptoms.

Back Brace

A back brace or corset can provide excellent relief for most sciatica sufferers. Those who gain the most benefit find their pain eases when they wrap/bind a towel or sheet (folded-lengthwise) tightly around their stomach and back. If this simple test relieves your pain, you should use a back brace in the short term. Back braces and strong deep core muscles help avoid a recurrence in the future.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture has been a useful source of pain relief for over 5000 years. While we do not fully understand how it works, acupuncture can assist you with pain relief. Many of our PhysioWorks physiotherapists have acupuncture or dry needling training. Ask your physiotherapist for advice.

Massage

Massage always feels lovely, plus it has terrific muscle relaxation benefits. Massage is beneficial when muscle spasm or chronic muscle tension is present. Regular remedial massage is also a sound low back pain prevention strategy.

TENS Machine

TENS machines are electronic pain-relieving devices that will reduce your pain and the need for pain-relieving drugs.

Posture Supports

Poor sitting posture is a common cause of sciatica. Many simple and effective products developed over time to passively assist your back support. These include lumbar D-Roll, Bassett frames and kinesio tape.

Weight Loss

Your lower back needs to carry any extra kilos. Losing weight via an exercise program such as walking or swimming, plus an improved diet, has to assist lower back pain sufferers. Changing your daily habits is a secret. If you require advice, please ask your physiotherapist for their recommended exercise guidelines to burn your fuel or consult a dietitian to help point you in the right direction when it comes to a healthy and straightforward calorie-controlled diet.

More info: Dietitians

What Back Pain Treatment Results Can You Expect?

Most sufferers of lower back pain will recover within 4 to 6 weeks. However, this time can vary. It depends on the nature of your injury and the treatment plan you develop with your physiotherapist.

More Info:

Lower Back Pain

Most Common Causes of Back Pain

Back Pain FAQs

Article by John Miller

Is Your Back Pain Serious?

back pain

What Can Cause Severe Low Back Pain?

A sudden injury most often causes acute low back pain. The most common injury sources are the muscles and ligaments supporting the back. The pain may be caused by muscle spasms or a strain or tear in the muscles and ligaments. But occasionally, it can have a more sinister cause.

Warning Signs of a More Serious Back Injury?

In these instances of neurological deficit, please urgently consult your nearest hospital, doctor or physiotherapist. The following neurological signs warrant prompt assessment:

  • pins and needles (paraesthesia),
  • numbness (anaesthesia),
  • leg muscle weakness,
  • altered reflexes,
  • difficulty walking,
  • loss of control of bladder or bowels.

Non-Musculoskeletal Causes of Low Back Pain

Although most low back pain is musculoskeletal in origin, other health conditions can cause low back pain.

  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm
  • Infection of the spine (osteomyelitis, discitis)
  • Kidney infection or kidney stones
  • Spondyloarthropathies: e.g. rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis.
  • Female reproductive organs: e.g. pregnancy complications, ovarian cysts or cancer, endometriosis

Please seek the professional advice of your trusted and experienced healthcare practitioner to diagnose the cause of your lower back pain.

Back Pain Info

Article by John Miller

Nerve Pain

Nerve pain is pain caused by damage or disease that affects the nervous system of the body. It is also known as neuropathic pain or neuralgia. Nerve pain is a pain that comes from problems with signals from the nerves. It is different to the typical type of pain that is due to an injury. It is known as nociceptive pain.

What Causes Nerve Pain?

nerve pain

A problem with your nerves themselves, which sends pain messages to the brain, causes neuropathic pain.

What Are Nerve Pain Symptoms?

Nerve pain is often described as burning, stabbing, shooting, aching, or like an electric shock.

What Causes Nerve Pain?

Various conditions can affect your nerves and cause nerve pain. Familiar sources of nerve pain include:

  • Shingles (post-herpetic neuralgia).
  • Trigeminal neuralgia.
  • Diabetic neuropathy.
  • Phantom limb pain (post-amputation).
  • Cancer.
  • Multiple sclerosis.
  • Chemotherapy.
  • HIV infection.
  • Alcoholism.
  • Other nerve disorders.

Nerve Pain & Nociceptive Pain

You can suffer both nerve pain and nociceptive pain simultaneously. The same condition can cause both pain types.

Nerve Pain Treatment

Nerve pain is less likely than nociceptive pain to be helped by traditional painkillers. Paracetamol and anti-inflammatories seem less effective.  However, other types of medicines often work well to ease the pain. Nerve pain is often relieved by anti-depressant or anti-epileptic medication. Please ask your doctor for more advice.

What is Pain?

Pain is the built-in alarm that informs you something is wrong!

Pain is your body's way of sending a warning to your brain. Your spinal cord and nerves provide the pathway for messages to travel to and from your brain and the other parts of your body. Pain travels along these nerve pathways as electrical signals to your brain for interpretation.

Receptor nerve cells in and beneath your skin sense heat, cold, light, touch, pressure, and pain. You have thousands of these receptor cells. Most cells sense pain. When there is an injury to your body, these tiny cells send messages along nerves into your spinal cord and then up to your brain.

In general, pain receptors are classified according to their location.

Receptors that respond to injury or noxious stimuli are termed nociceptors and are sensitive to thermal (heat), electrical, mechanical, chemical and painful stimuli. Each nociceptor is connected to a nerve that transmits an electrical impulse along its length towards the spinal cord and then, ultimately, your brain.

It is your brain that informs you whether or not you are experiencing pain. Plus, your pain can plays tricks - especially when you suffer chronic pain.

Pain messages travel slower than other nerve stimulation.

Nerves can also be categorised according to their diameter (width) and whether a myelin sheath is present.

Three types of nerves are concerned with the transmission of pain:

A-beta fibres, which have a large diameter and are myelinated
A-delta fibres, which has a small diameter and also have myelinated sheaths.
C fibres have small diameters, are non-myelinated (slowing their conduction rate), and are generally involved in the transmission of dull, aching sensations.

Nerves with large diameters conduct impulses faster than those with a small diameter. The presence of a myelin sheath also speeds up the nerve conduction rate.

One method of easing your pain is to provide your nervous system with high speed "good feelings", such as rubbing your injured area. This is the same principle that a tens machine (pain-relieving machine) utilises to provide pain relief.

More info:

What is Pain?

What is Nerve Pain?

What is Chronic Pain?

What is a Pinched Nerve?

Pain Relieving Machines

Article by John Miller

What Causes Pins & Needles?

What is Paraesthesia?

A moderately pinched nerve is the most common cause of "pins and needles". Pins and needles are referred to as "paraesthesia" in the medical community. Did you know that feeling "pins and needles" can be a worse sign than having pain in your arm or leg? The reason is that you can't even feel pain anymore when you significantly squash the nerve.

Even worse than "pins and needles" is "numbness" or "anaesthesia", which is a total lack of sensation. You will experience anaesthesia when there is severe nerve compression. Anaesthesia or numbness that persists for more than a few hours can signify permanent nerve compression. Would you please seek prompt medical attention to prevent the nerve from permanent damage and the muscles it innervates to weaken drastically?

The majority of pinched nerves and nerve compressions are only transient and quickly reversed with early treatment. However, neglect can lead to permanent nerve compression injuries, which may never recover.

Common Causes of Pinched Nerves

The most common forms of nerve compression are in the spinal joints, where either a disc bulge or a bony arthritic spur can irritate and compress the nerve. Compressions can also occur as the nerve passes through or around muscles. Your physiotherapist will know where to look.

How Can You Fix "Pins and Needles"?

If you know of someone who is experiencing chronic or permanent "pins and needles", "numbness", or "muscle weakness", please encourage them to seek urgent professional advice. The secret to quick success is the correct diagnosis. A highly trained health practitioner such as your physiotherapist or doctor is your best port of call.

More info