Ask Edinburgh Osteopath Gavin Routledge about back pain

For 2 weeks I have had a terrible pain in the back of my thigh, with pins and needles in my foot.  My doctor says I have a slipped disc in my lower back and has given me anit-inflammatories.  I don’t have any back pain – how can this be right?

A “slipped disc” is known in osteopathic circles as a herniated or prolapsed disc.  It is not uncommon to have a disc problem affecting the nerve that travels into your leg, without any low back pain at all.  The disc, which sits between the bones of the spine like a shock absorber, has very little nerve supply itself so you can damage it without being aware of any back pain.  It is only when the bulging part of the disc (imagine slashing a tyre and the inner tube bulges out) pushes on the nerve where it exits the spinal column that you start to get pain in the distribution of the nerve; the nerves from your lower back travel down your leg all the way to the toes, hence the pain and tingling in the leg. (It is important to note that some nerves in the lower back go to the bladder – if you experience any difficulty passing water, especially if you go for hours with a marked reduction in your normal production of urine, go to A&E.)

It is possible to have symptoms like yours caused by problems other than a disc – definitely worth consulting an expert in the field as (disc or not) they should be able to advise you on how to increase your rate of healing.  Exercises and  postural advice should be part of the package of care.  Always try to maximise your exercise but minimise your pain i.e. keep it moving without aggravating it.  The anti-inflammatories may help with the pain (as may paracetamol), but they will not speed up the rate of healing.
If you need help with back pain or any other joint pain there is no need to suffer in silence. Get in touch with the Active X reception in Edinburgh and let us help you relieve your pain.
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