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disc | disc prolapse | disc bulge | osteopath disc

So you have a lumbar disc injury…what now?

Seriously poor you…

Discs are one of the most painful (but usually not serious) problems we treat.

If a disc injury sufferer only takes pain medication as treatment, by the time their disc settles down they are very stiff and achy and often describe a feeling of heavinesslumbar disc and pressure in their back. These people often end up relating to themselves as “having a bad back”. Osteopathy may prevent that occurring, reducing ongoing medication needs and returning people to work and leisure activities sooner.

So what is a disc injury?

The disc sits between each spinal vertebrae shaped like a jam donut. The jam is chewing gum-like and the donut is like a mass of spider webs all around the chewy. Over time, even though you don’t feel it, the chewing gum breaks through the donut fibres. It is only when the chewing reaches the outer 1/3 of the donut that we begin to feel pain from a disc as this is where our nerve endings are.
Our training enables us to identify the disc injury by asking specific questions and performing movement tests.


It is down to the hands-on quality that Osteopathy provides as a treatment approach, that we are capable of relieving pain caused by disc injuries by working through the muscular soft tissues, using ultrasound for the inflammation and gently mobilizing the adjacent structures. By giving specific guidance as to how the disc will recover, and what to avoid in the process, our patients often feel better rather quickly, and not worry about their condition despite the pain they may be in.

What can you do right now?

Self-management is all about limiting the pain:

  • So find the position you are most comfortable in (lying down is usually the best for most)
  • Apply heat to your back.  Heat may sound counter-intuitive for some of you but works wonders for the vast majority.  If you are not sure…then have warm shower, if the warm water is soothing on your back then consider this is your body’s intuition as to what it likes right now. Keep the heat applied all day, but be cautious not to make it too hot…heat application can burn the skin.  It is one of the easiest ways to take the edge off the pain and relax your spasming muscles.  Note: if the warm water is not soothing then please do not apply heat.
  • When sitting, use a solid chair like a dining chair to assist you in sitting more upright (sitting SLUMPED as we do on a couch aggravates discs)
  • In the car, it can be beneficial to lie the seat back a little and move the base of the chair forwards.  Adding a cushion to the small of your back may assist further
  • See your pharmacist for the best pain relief medication for you
  • If you have leg or pelvic pain, you can use heat here too but make sure you also apply to your back…after all, this is where the problem actually is
  • REST.  Unfortunately many disc sufferers push through the pain to their detriment the following day.  If you sacrifice the time in the early stage (usually the most painful stage anyway) and rest, you are likely to improve a whole lot faster. (By the way…resting means doing nothing, literally lying down and reading a book or watching a movie.  Rest is not cleaning the house or doing the shopping!!)
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