Have you been having trouble with that persistent niggle in your back? Can’t bend down and pick up your children? You’re not alone!
Back pain is a large-scale issue here in Australia, with around 4 million Australians (~16% of the population) suffering from it each year.
It is also one of the most common causes of missed days at work. So, when around 8 in 10 Australians will have back pain at some point in their lives, it places a huge toll on all of us.
Back pain can be from a variety of causes and can be short, medium or long term in duration.
The common symptoms for people experiencing back pain include;
- Pain, spasms and/or stiffness in the back region
- Pain, tingling and/or numbness in the legs or feet.
When it comes to the types of back pain there are several main issues:
- Disc disorders
- Sciatica (found in our blog Sciatica; what causes it?)
- Muscle injury
- Other bone or joint related pain
What is a Disc?
The intervertebral discs are located between the segments of your spine. There is 23 in total: 6 in the neck, 12 in the upper back and 5 in the lower back.
They are made of fibrocartilage with an outer region called the annulus fibrosus and a central region called the nucleus pulposus.
The discs act as cushions for the bony sections of your spine and are important for many functions of movement. Primarily they:
- Act as shock absorbers to reduce the stress on your spin from weight and activities like jumping
- Help protect the nerves that run down your spinal column
- Contribute to the stability in the spine by restricting movement
What Are The types of Disc Injury?
Thinning of the disc:
- As we age there is less water in the discs so they lose some of their cushioning properties which makes them more prone to injury
- It is common for wear and tear of the discs to occur from the pressures that they are subjected to in daily life
- This can progress to degenerative joint disease over time with the potential for bone spurs (osteophytes) to occur from the friction between the two spinal segments
- It can be a pain free condition depending on the severity of the degeneration
- Compressive forces placed on the spine can force the outer section of a disc (annulus fibrosis) to bulge out of its normal position
- Some bulging disc can cause no pain while others can irritate nearby structures of the spine and lead to pain
- More extreme compressive force can lead to the inner portion of the disc (nucleus pulposes) pushing through the outer section (annulus fibrosis) into the spinal canal
- This is a more severe condition that can also be present without pain but can also compress nerves in the spinal column to cause pain, numbness or weakness in an arm or leg.
What causes disc injuries?
Back pain can have a large impact on how we go about our daily lives. There are many common causes, such as working posture, lifting with poor technique, sport and lifestyle activities, previous injuries, arthritis and osteoporosis.
There are several factors that can place you at an increased risk of developing back pain:
- Increasing age
- Physical fitness
- Being overweight
- The type of work you do and your bodies tolerance to it
Osteopathic management of Disc Injury
At Bodywell Healthcare, our osteopaths will conduct a thorough assessment of your spinal mobility and alignment, movement patterns, muscle strength, muscle tightness, and lower body movements, to help us gather the information we need to make an accurate diagnosis.
Treatment will typically focus on improving joint mobility, reducing muscle tension, and improving posture and alignment. We will also provide advice on stretching and strengthening exercises that are best suited to your goals and your abilities.
The good news is that with appropriate management, osteopathic treatment may assist in providing relief from both short-term or long-term disc injury.
Where do I go from here?
Do you have any questions about whether osteopathic treatment might be right for you? You can call us on 9717 1200 to speak with one of our friendly team members.
Alternatively, if you would like to book an appointment with one of our osteopaths you can call the clinic, or you can book online here: https://www.bodywellhealthcare.com.au/book-online/