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How a Slipped Disc…or Herniated Disc Causes Lower Back Pain and Sciatica

How a Slipped Disc…or Herniated Disc Causes Lower Back Pain and Sciatica

The Top 3 Causes of Lower Back Pain are:

  1. Arthritis, Stenosis, Disc Degeneration
  2. Herniated Disc
  3. Pelvis

Here, we’re going to focus on a Herniated Disc…


Herniated Disc

The progression of a disc problem from good to bad is as follows:

  • Healthy disc
  • Bulging disc
  • Herniated disc
  • Ruptured disc

So What is it?

As a disc bulges, herniates and ruptures, it puts an increasing amount of pressure on the nerves in the spine. This leads to pain and can eventually cause numbness, tingling and pain down into the legs. This is commonly called “SCIATICA” (pronounced SI-ATTIC-A) or a pinched nerve.

How It Works.

There is a space between the bones in your back. In this space there is a disc. The disc acts as a shock absorber to help with forces in your spine. The disc is surrounded by a gel like substance. This is held together by a wall of fibers. Sometimes the fibers can break down and allow some of the disc and gel to push out and put pressure on the nerves in the lower back.

Common Symptoms.

Most people suffering from lower back pain and sciatica from a herniated disc have pain bending forward, lifting, coughing, twisting and sitting. The pain is usually relieved with bending backwards or standing.


Can you heal a herniated disc?

MRIs. If you took an MRI of 100 people without pain, how many would have a herniated disc or other disc problem? The answer may surprise you…it’s 80. From research and personal experience, I have worked with people who were suffering from severe back pain and sciatica AND had a positive MRI for a herniated disc. Several were experiencing weakness in their legs.

One specific instance involved a man in his thirties who had foot drop (he could not pull his foot up). He had a herniated disc on an MRI. After 4 weeks of PT, he regained the strength in his leg and was able to run 3 miles without problems.

Did he go back and get another MRI to see if the disc had healed?

Of course not! I doubt the insurance companies want to pay for an MRI on a person who is now healthy and healed

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