As the body’s central support structure, your spine is one of the most vital components of your musculoskeletal system. Given its major role in support and movement, it’s not uncommon to see injuries happen to different areas of the spine, especially among those who follow a more athletic lifestyle.
In this article, we’ll look at lumbar disc injuries, some of the more common spinal injuries. We will explain how lumbar disc injuries happen, as well as share some treatment and management tips for better recovery.
What Are Lumbar Discs?
The lumbar spine is made up of 5 vertebrae, separated by five lumbar discs that occupy each intervertebral space. These soft discs sit between each vertebrae’s space alongside several muscles and soft tissue layers.
These structures work together and give your back strength and flexibility, allowing your back to be the sturdiest part of your body.
How Do Lumbar Disc Injuries Happen?
The most common cause of lumbar disc injury is the motion of bending forwards and twisting your back, which makes the discs susceptible to damage – especially if you’re carrying a heavy object and placing a lot of weight on the spine.
While not all lumbar disc injuries may cause symptoms, in more severe cases, a disc injury may compress the nerves near the exit of the spinal cord, leading to pain in the buttocks, hips, or legs.
Other common symptoms of lumbar disc injuries include:
- Lower back pain
- Neck pain
- Numbness or tingling in your back, shoulders, and extremities
- Problems manipulating your back
Treatment and Management Of Lumbar Disc Injuries
Initially, a lumbar disc injury can be both painful and uncomfortable. The best treatment for back pain caused by an acute disc injury is anti-inflammatory medication, rest, and gentle movement exercises.
Once the acute pain has settled, visiting an osteo wellness centre for osteopathic treatment can be beneficial in reducing pain levels and muscular tension. Other benefits of osteopathic treatment include improving the mobility of the lumbar and thoracic spine, pelvis, and surrounding areas.
The usual prognosis for a lumbar disc injury is 3 to 4 months for symptomatic relief and your back to feel better. However, discs can take up to 18 months to completely heal, even if the pain has subsided.
For this reason, it is essential to avoid aggravating activities such as heavy lifting, and to continue with active management (such as prescribed exercise) for at least 18 months post-injury so your lumbar discs have the time and opportunity to heal fully.
Exercise To Help With and Prevent Lumbar Disc Injuries
While light exercise can help with lumbar disc injury management, do make sure that you’re further along your recovery period, as exercising too soon after your injury can aggravate it further – leading to a much longer healing process.
1. Lx Rocks
Lay on your back with knees up and feet on the floor before gently rocking your knees. Perform this for 30-60 seconds to loosen up the lower back joints.
This mild exercise can be beneficial in the morning once you get out of bed, as your joints may have stiffened up through the night whilst you were laying down.
2. Gluteal Stretch
Doing a gluteal stretch can help relieve tightness and tension and can help reduce lower back pain or tightness in your hips.
Sit on a chair with your feet on the floor and your back up straight. Cross one leg over the other and hold the knee resting on the opposite thigh. Keeping your back straight, pull the knee up towards your opposite shoulder.
Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and perform these three to five times daily.
3. Hip Flexor Stretch
Hip flexor stretches can help promote greater hip flexibility and decrease the pain felt in the lower back and hip.
Kneel in a lunge position with the knee on the side you want to stretch down. Tuck the bum under and lunge forwards until you feel a stretch through the front of your hip.
To get a more substantial stretch, raise the arm on the side that you are stretching up above the head and pull slightly backwards.
Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and repeat as necessary.
4. Transverse Abdominus Strengthening
This exercise is mainly used to reduce lower back pain and prevents further injury to your lumbar spine.
Lay on your back with your knees bent to 90 degrees and your feet on the floor. Draw the skin of your belly down towards the floor by tensing your lower stomach muscles, and think about drawing your pelvic floor muscles up.
Hold for 5 seconds, and repeat this exercise 10 times, twice daily. If you would like to increase the intensity of this exercise, please speak to your osteopath before doing so.
Osteopathic Treatment For Lumbar Disc Injuries
If you need further treatment for your lumbar disc injuries, we’re here to help. As an osteo wellness centre, Healing Hands offers hands-on treatment, management strategies, and other advice to decrease your back pain. Book an appointment with us today!
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When you first arrive, you will be asked to fill in a personal information sheet which includes questions relating to your past medical history and your presenting complaint. You will then move to the consulting room where your osteopath will take a detailed history…
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