What you need to know about physiotherapy and podiatry.
Physio&SoleClinic Back pain April 6 2023
Have you ever had back pain radiating down into your leg? Was this pain also accompanied by pins and needles sensation or numbness along the buttocks, thighs or legs? If you did experience these symptoms or are still currently experiencing these symptoms, you may have either lumbar stenosis or a herniated disc.
A herniated disc is also commonly known as a ‘slipped disc’ or a ‘bulging disc’. In our spine, the disc is a layer of cartilage-like tissue that acts as a shock absorber to dampen forces sent through our spine. It also provides flexibility to the spine during our day-to-day movements. The disc contains a soft, gel-like centre (nucleus pulposus) and a firmer outer layer (annulus). Occasionally, the contents of the nucleus pulposus may leak out of the outer annulus layer and may irritate or compress the nearby spinal nerves, causing pain to shoot down the leg.
The term “slipped disc” often gives people the false impression that their discs have slipped out of the spine. An intervertebral disc is firmly anchored into the vertebral bones above and below by vertebral end plates and is surrounded by strong ligaments. Hence, there is no way a disc can slip. The disc may bulge a little but it is still stable in its position. The correct term should be “herniation”, “disc bulge”, or “disc prolapse”.
There are a few contributing factors to a herniated disc, such as:
Herniated disc usually affects one side of the body but can also affect both sides depending on where the herniated disc is situated. Symptoms may vary depending on whether the disc is irritating or impinging on a nerve.
Lumbar stenosis occurs when the spaces in the spine narrow and create pressure on the spinal cord or spinal nerves. Your spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that comes out of the base of the brain and runs through a tunnel (spinal canal) formed by your spinal vertebrae. The spinal nerves are nerves that branch out from the cord. Stenosis, which means narrowing, usually occurs over time and it may involve one or more areas of the spine.
The most common cause of lumbar stenosis is osteoarthritis and other age-related wear and tear that happens to your joints over time. Most people who suffer from spinal or lumbar stenosis are aged 50 or older. Besides osteoarthritis and age-related wear and tear, other conditions that can cause lumbar stenosis are:
Similar to a herniated disc, lumbar stenosis can lead to back pain radiating to the leg, numbness or tingling down the leg, or weakness of your lower body. In addition to the above, lumbar stenosis that is affecting the spinal cord can also lead to more serious symptoms. If you have any of these symptoms, you may need to seek immediate medical attention:
To diagnose lumbar stenosis or lumbar disc herniation, your healthcare provider will ask you questions about your symptoms and do a complete physical examination. During the physical examination your healthcare provider assesses your stability, sensation, strength, reflexes, alignment and motion. You may be asked to stand, sit, walk on your heels and toes, bend forward, backward and to the sides, and lift your legs while lying down.
Tests that can help with a diagnosis:
If you have disc herniation or lumbar stenosis, the initial treatment is usually conservative and non-surgical. Treatment usually includes physiotherapy and medication. A doctor may recommend surgery if conservative treatment does not help in reducing your symptoms.
These are some exercises that can help to relieve your pain. For more information or details of these exercises, please consult your physiotherapist.
At Physio & Sole Clinic, we strive to provide recovery for our patients in the quickest and safest manner through physiotherapy treatments for them so that they are able to resume back to their lifestyle, injured-free. Speak with our physiotherapists through our Ask a Physio whatsapp platform to get your enquiries answered or book an appointment at any one of our clinics islandwide.