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Low Back Pain Caused by a Slipped Disc

Pain in the spine, a man with backache a

In between the bones of the spine is a disc which reduces pressure and allows movement between the vertebrae.  The disc is made of two main parts: the tough outer ring, known as the annulus fibrosis and the inner softer gel like substance known as the nucleus pulposus.

Disc diagram.JPG

Following prolonged wear and tear though daily stresses, or after injury, it is possible for the annulus fibrosis to become damaged and tear, and the nucleus pulposus to herniate and partially slip though the annulus fibrosis. This is what is known as a “disc herniation” or “slipped disc”.

The disc itself does not actually move anywhere, as is implied in the name “Slipped disc”. It remains firmly attached to the vertebrae above and below

Disc Herniation Explained.JPG

The stages of a disc prolapse. 1. Damage to the annulus fibrosis. 2. Nucleus pulposus protrudes through the annulus fibrosis. 3. Large disc protrusion, depending on the location nerves may become compressed and significant pain may be felt.

The symptoms of such an injury usually include low back pain, difficulty bending forwards, pain going to the buttock or down the back of the leg. The pain can be severe, but varies from person to person.


With a disc herniation, there is a risk of loss of bladder control though cauda equina syndrome which is a medical emergency. Patients with a loss of bladder function should go to hospital immediately. Find out more about cauda equina syndrome here:

Conservative treatment for low back pain works well for about 90% of people, however staying in bed for a prolonged period in excess of a few days should be avoided if possible. Keeping the low back moving with gentle exercises and walking can help. As can gentle traction on the spine.


Most cases of low back pain caused by a herniated disc resolve gradually within about 8 weeks. Only a relatively small number of cases require surgery.

If you have back pain and suspect you may have a slipped disc, you should probably get it checked out by a professional. Effective treatment for a slipped disc at Wrexham Osteopath does not involve drugs or surgery, however it depends on the severity of your injury..

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