Disc Injuries & Low Back Pain

Disc Injuries & Low Back Pain
Swipe through the images to learn some interesting facts about disc injuries & low back pain!

Scans & Imaging for Discs
Disc pathologies are much more common than we think and yet they aren’t always associated with pain or loss of function. In people as young as 20 years old, we can see in the 2nd slide that 30% of those without any symptoms actually have evidence of disc bulging on a scan (Brinjikji, 2015). In many people, this can be seen as a normal age-related change. These findings have to be considered in the context of the patient’s history for a better understanding of the scan’s meaning.

But what if we do have pain and loss of function associated with disc injury?

Can Discs Heal?
The good news is that disc bulges and herniations are actually able to regress and in some cases completely resolve with conservative management (Zhong et al, 2017). Strangely enough, the more severe the injury, the more likely the disc is to regress or resolve following a conservative approach (Chiu et al, 2015).

Do Discs Actually Slip?
Fear and unhelpful negative beliefs about our injuries have been shown to influence our pain and recovery times, so we think it’s time to put to rest the idea that discs can slip in and out of place at will.

Discs cannot slip! Never!

This layman term description of a disc herniation often gives people the idea that if they aren’t incredibly careful with how they move their disc could pop out at any moment – causing them to avoid movement and activity that is likely helpful for their pain.

While certain movements may be uncomfortable or more likely to stress the lower back, your discs aren’t slipping anywhere.

What Should I Do?
See a healthcare professional for assessment and advice specific to your situation!

Written by: David Resic (Osteopath)

Brinjikji et al, 2015, Systematic Literature Review of Imaging Features of Spinal Degeneration in Asymptomatic Populations, AJNR Am J Neuroradiol

Chiu et al, 2015, The probability of spontaneous regression of lumbar herniated disc: a systematic review, Clin Rehabil

Zhong et al, 2017, Incidence of Spontaneous Resorption of Lumbar Disc Herniation: A Meta-Analysis, Pain Physician