To follow up on my previous post on Low Back Pain, I feel the need to elaborate a little more on the role of the ‘disc’. The disc is made up of an inner (more gel-like) material and an outer (more fibrous) material. This is important in that the middle gel-like material is what can get pushed out, while the fibrous outer part tries to hold it in. WHY is that important to know? Well, if you can put yourself in certain positions and complete the correct exercises, you give the disc a chance to settle back in and the fibrous part to scar over it…aka repair the problem! Doing the exercises and avoiding the pain provoking activities & positions listed in my previous post, is a great starting point.
Not all low back pain looks the same…even when the disc is the underlying problem, each person might have different symptoms. Here are some cardinal signs, but are NOT all inclusive or encompass all individuals. However, if you have more pain with sitting, driving, working at a computer, stooping/bending over but less pain with standing, walking, lying flat…it could very well be a disc issue that is the underlying cause. Again, closing off the gel-like disc material and letting the fibrotic outer disc scar it down/repair itself is what you are trying to do with the extension exercises provided in my previous post. You are trying to keep the curve/arch in the small of your back. Think about what your low back looks like with standing, walking, lying flat – it promotes that small natural curve!!
You have all heard of people “throwing their back out” or “just got up from a chair” or “woke up funny one morning” and hurt their back. Now, all of these situations or none of these situations could indicate a disc problem. Disc pain can range from slight pinching, to an inability to stand upright, to nerve pain down into your buttocks or leg. The onset can be gradual or sudden. I say all of this to reiterate, it is IMPOSSIBLE to give you a comprehensive approach to even one area of back pain, like disc pathology…let alone anything else that could be contributing to low back pain. This post, along with subsequent ones, is meant to provide some background info as well as a few guidelines from my educational and professional experience.
This is why, as always, I welcome questions or comments and continue to recommend seeking a healthcare professional when in doubt. I feel strongly that this information can be invaluable to some of you, which is why I am putting it out there. I feel equally as strong that you should not do anything (even stretches or exercises) that you are uncertain about or that increase symptoms. The internet is a great source for information, guidance, and help but nothing replaces an expert assessment.
Next post I will continue to address Back Pain, but focusing on muscle dysfunction. Check back in a few days…