Call 01534 733162
Disc injury can occur in many forms; from a small disc bulge to a true disc herniation or ‘slipped disc’. This can cause severe low back pain and, if pinching a nerve, can also cause pain into the leg (commonly referred to as ‘sciatica’). These disc injuries are very common, estimated to account for around 40% of all low back pain cases. But, unless due to a traumatic event, disc injury does not occur spontaneously…
Like all chronic injuries, there is an underlying cause(s) which leads to a gradual overload of the tissue, eventually resulting in injury and pain. These underlying causes will be different in everyone and likely a combination of factors (i.e. mechanical, nutritional, lifestyle, genetic etc), meaning that effective treatment should be personalised to the individual.
However, there are some general guidelines that will be helpful in most disc related problems:
1) Sitting and Disc Pain
Sitting is often very painful for patients with disc injury. Even when well tolerated it isn’t a good position for recovery and should therefore be avoided as much as practical. That being said, people generally need to sit (for work, to drive, to eat etc) so when you sit; 1) do it right and 2) don’t sit for too long:
Although there is no one “ideal” sitting posture for everyone, some positions are better than others and for someone with disc pain soft chairs and a slumped posture should be fiercely avoided.
Sitting in a slumped or flexed posture will stretch the ligaments of the spine. In fact, it has been found that after only three minutes of full forward bending of the spine, stretching of the ligaments occurs that persists even after 30 minutes of rest . This reduces the stability of the spine, leaving it vulnerable to injury/ re-injury.
To help avoid this, place a support or lumber roll above your belt line to maintain a slight arch in the low back. We recommmend the 66fit or Mckenzie Lumbar Roll from Amazon.
Don’t Sit for Long
Although holding a good posture when sitting can reduce low back stresses, holding any one posture for a prolonged period of time will still lead to increases stiffness and tension. You should therefore avoid sitting for longer than 20 min without getting up. Microbreaks are a perfect way to break up periods of sitting and get the spine moving again. (NB: Microbreak exercises must be matched to tolerance, don’t perform any exercise that exacerbates your pain.)
2) Be Mindful in the Morning for Slipped Disc Relief
The morning is a vulnerable time for the spine. At night, discs attract water and swell, increasing disc bending stresses by 300% and ligament stresses by 80% in the morning ! Therefore avoidance of bending, lifting and twisting early in the morning, is crucial to preventing the exacerbation of a disc injury.
Simply getting out of bed can be a disaster waiting to happen. Most people perform a sit-up to get up, instead, roll onto your side and let your legs swing down. This will help avoid spine twisting or bending, and decrease the strain on the back at a time when the back is most vulnerable.
Bed rest is generally bad. Bed rest;
- Stiffens and weakens the spine.
- Reduces blood supply which slows healing and recovery.
- Causes swelling of the disc which increases the bending stresses of the spine.
So, as soon as possible, you should be begin resuming light activities that are safe for your back such as walking. However, a day or two of bed rest may be appropriate for severe low back pain but, rest is because of the pain not for the pain i.e. because the pain is so severe that you cannot do anything else.
Looking for further Slipped Disc Relief?
Click here to find out how treatment at Dynamic Health Jersey CI could help.
References and Images
1) Liebenson, C. (1998). Rehabilitation of the spine (pp. 256-257). Williams & Wilkins.
This article contains affiliate links. Click here to learn more.
‘Top tips for slipped disc relief’ was written by Steffen Toates. Steffen is a chiropractor at Dynamic Health Chiropractic in Jersey, Channel Islands. For more information about Steffen click here.