Telephone: 01788 560646
69 Albert Street, Rugby,
Warwickshire, CV21 2SN.
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Understanding Disc Problems

Wednesday July 17, 2019 at 11:08pm
Understanding Disc Problems


The discs are the main shock absorbers in the spine, and are located in between each of the vertebrae. They consist of a fibrous outer casing (annulus fibrosis) and a jelly-like centre (nucleus pulposus). The nucleus pulposus allows movement of each of the vertebral joints, therefore acting as a ball bearing upon moving your back. I like to use the analogy of a jam doughnut to describe the disc’s structure; the annulus being the dough and the nucleus being the jam filled centre.


A very common injury is a disc herniation; also known as a disc bulge. This condition involves damage to an area of the annulus, which is often the result of degeneration (wear and tear). The stresses of day-to-day movements and prolonged positions, as well as minor back injuries, can create small tears in the wall of the annulus. If a tear becomes large enough, the liquid nucleus can move through the crack and create a bulging, known as a disc herniation. If a herniation reaches a certain size, it can irritate and press on the nerve roots (beginning of the nerves) that come out of the spine. This can create symptoms such as pain and/or numbness and pins and needles into the legs. These symptoms are sometimes known as sciatica.


A crucial element of disc treatment and management is educating the patient about what to do, as well as what not to do. Subtle changes in our daily activities can enhance disc recovery. I commonly ask patients with a disc herniation to follow the below rules:

  • Avoid forward bending; this can significantly irritate a disc
  • Always lift with your knees and not your back
  • If you need to rest, lie down instead of sitting
  • Apply an icepack in order to reduce inflammation of the disc
  • Sleep on your side with your knees slightly bent and a rolled-up towel or pillow between your knees
  • In some cases, I will advise on a support belt to help to protect the disc
  • Keep moving! Avoid staying in a prolonged position

Advice will however be given for each patient specifically according to their presentation and the stage of the disc injury.

Alongside home advice, osteopaths can provide gentle manual therapy techniques and home exercises that may reduce painful muscle spasms and help to decrease the irritation of the injured disc. Therefore, in order for the disc to be given a chance to heal, both the patient and the osteopath work together towards recovery.


To discuss any condition you are experiencing, or to find out more information please contact our professional team.



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Rugby Osteopathic Centre, 69 Albert Street, Rugby
Warwickshire, CV21 2SN, Tel: 01788 560646, Fax:01788 571318