Lumbar Disc Prolapse

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INJURY TITLE

Lumbar Disc Prolapse

 

INJURY OVERVIEW

This is an injury that routinely occurs at the 4th and 5th lumbar levels and involves an injury to the disc of varying severity with symptoms that vary according to that severity.

 

INJURY IN-DEPTH INFORMATION

A disc prolapse can vary from the disc contents leaking to the border of the disc and merely placing pressure upon the it, to the contents rupturing the disc completely and leaking out.  This can place pressure upon the nerve root nearby causing back and leg pain, but it doesn’t have to.

 

It should be remembered that no matter what type of disc injury, there will be swelling and this would place pressure upon everything around it.  The injury will have associated protective muscle spasm, and these things will cause varying levels of pain.

 

Conversely, not everyone suffers pain at all following spinal disc injuries.  Indeed many people will have disc problems and not know it.  Nonetheless, some of the common signs and symptoms will be mentioned in the next box.

 

COMMON SIGNS & SYMPTOMS

  • Pain and loss of function
  • If the nerve root is sufficiently affected there may be a sudden lack of muscle power in the leg making some movements (e.g. lifting your foot) quite difficult.
  • Alterations in posture
  • Spasm in the muscles around the injury
  • Disturbance of normal movement
  • If there is a loss of control in bladder or bowl function, urgent medical attention should be sought.

 

HOW IS IT ASSESSED

  • Clinical examination to evaluate the severity of the injury and the disability involved
  • Occasionally further investigations are required (if the nerve root is sufficiently involved)
  • MRI can be helpful in this case.

 

GENERAL TREATMENT

  • Pain management is to be considered first
  • Focused physiotherapy assessment and treatment program
  • Progressive exercise inside the boundaries of your pain
  • Manual therapy to help with joint stiffness and muscles around the injury (as the pain begins to subside)
  • Corticosteroid injection to help with acute and persistent inflammation
  • Occasionally and in rare cases, surgical intervention may be needed.

 

Exercise Videos: i.e.

  • Rotator cuff strengthening
  • Pec stretch
  • etc

 

WHICH HEALTH PROFESSIONAL TO CONSULT

PHYSIO     X

MEDIC     X

PODIATRY     

Put an ‘X’ next to each health professional that most commonly deals with this injury.

i.e. tennis elbow would be Physio and Medic as injections are common, whereas for muscular LBP it would be Physio and not Medic as they would just refer them to a Physio.

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