What is a slipped disc?
A disc prolapse, or ‘slipped disc’, occurs when the thick paste-like disc nucleus is pushed out through a tiny defect in the fibrous disk wall. This bulge of nucleus can irritate the nerve root. Disk prolapses are commonly seen in patients between the ages of 20 and 50 and is more common in males than females.
How Does a Disc Prolapse Occur?
A prolapse usually occurs in discs that have been previously damaged. This explains why frequently a minor movement, such as bending over to pick an object off the floor, may cause such a painful and seemingly severe injury.
The patient with a disc prolapse typically presents with acute low back pain and/or leg pain following a relatively trivial movement usually involving bending forward. Pain is often aggravated by sitting, bending, lifting, coughing and sneezing. Pain is usually eased by lying down, particularly on the non-painful side, and is often less in the morning after a nights rest.
Treatment in the acute phase consists of painkillers and should start extension / side glide exercises as soon as possible. As the acute episode settles, it is important to restore normal pain-free movement to the area with localised mobilisation, stretching and stabilisation exercises.