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What is a disc prolapse?

A disc prolapse or 'slipped disc' is when part of the disc splits and the gel inside leaks out causing pain in the upper back and other symptoms, such as radiating pain or numbness.

What causes a disc prolapse?

It is unclear what exactly causes a disc prolapse. In a majority of people as they get older their discs lose more water content, making them less flexible which increases the chance of them splitting and causing a disc prolapse. Other factors that place increased pressure on the spine weakening the disc tissue, can lead to a disc prolapse and may include:
  • bending awkwardly
  • lifting heavy objects or weights
  • having a job that involves lots of sitting (particularly driving)
  • having a traumatic injury to your back, such as a fall or car accident

What are the symptoms/effects of a disc prolapse?

The main symptom of a disc prolapse is pain. The disc can also impinge on a nerve root or on the spinal cord itself causing pain in other parts of the body and abnormal sensation such as pins and needles and numbness.

Engaging the correct posture is a huge factor in the management of back pain.Above: Engaging the correct posture is a huge factor in the management of back pain.

Diagnosis of a disc prolapse

A doctor or physiotherapist will diagnose a disc prolapse from your symptoms and medical history.

Physiotherapy for a disc prolapse

Physiotherapy treatment is very effective in the treatment of disc prolapse.

Your physiotherapist at Manchester Physio will develop an individually tailored exercise plan for you to relieve nerve root irritation, minimise pain, keep you active and help prevent any further damage being caused to your back.

Physiotherapy treatment for disc prolapse may include:
  • Heat therapy to reduce muscle spasm and pain
  • Gently mobilisation techniques to the spine to relieve pressure on the nerve roots
  • Stretching
  • Massage therapy including trigger point techniques to relax tight muscles
  • Teaching correct postural techniques
  • Strengthening exercises to correct any muscle imbalance and stabilise the spine.
  • Acupuncture
  • Electrical stimulation such as TENS to help with pain
Your physiotherapist at Manchester Physio will restore pain free movement to the back, ensure correct posture and lifting techniques and strengthen the core stabilising muscles of the spine so that you can return to work and sporting activities as soon as possible.

For more information about physiotherapy for a disc prolapse, or to book an appointment please call 0161 883 0077.

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