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Back Pain Physiotherapy Clinic St Albans

Prolapsed Disc/Sciatica

“I have a prolapsed disc and acute sciatica and my Physio has told me to do Pilates, but I’m absolutely terrified of doing the wrong exercises”

A prolapsed disc (bulging disc, herniated disc, slipped disc) is generally an over-stretching injury caused by sudden trauma, or by sustained stress to the spine, or due to genetic pre-disposition. A prolaped disc often results in sciatica, although it’s important to be aware that sciatic pain can have numerous other causes for which a completely different combination of exercises and treatments would be required. It is therefore essential when embarking on a rehab exercise programme to ensure that your instructor understands these different conditions and the contra-indications for each, otherwise there is a high risk of making your condition worse as a result of applying the wrong exercises and treatments.

The good news is that, in most cases, minor, moderate and even more serious prolapsed disc injuries can be corrected without the need for surgery if they are correctly managed. At the Sogunro Practice we have the expertise and the experience to help you make a full recovery provided that you come to us early enough and can learn to manage your condition.

Osteolates and Physiotherapy – how can we help?

Pain is usually the reason that you initially seek help for a prolapsed disc, and in the early acute stages, management of pain and inflammation is the priority. We use Osteolates and physiotherapy soft tissue treatment techniques during this initial stage to relieve compression to the adjacent nerves, improve circulation to the affected area and to establish the optimum spinal position in order to prepare you for the next stage of rehabilitation exercise.

Osteolates treatments may also be prescribed during the subsequent rehab exercise stage to help restore and maintain normal muscle tension and flexibility. Treatments at this point aim to prevent another acute incident by controlling build-up of abnormal muscle tension that creates increased loading on the spinal discs.

Applied Pilates – how can we help?

Once the early pain and inflammation stage has been brought under control, the next stage of rehabilitation exercise can begin, and this is generally when you get advised by your doctor to “do Pilates”.  At this critical stage it is essential that only clinically appropriate exercises are applied, therefore it’s important to make sure you attend a form of clinical pilates, such as Applied Pilates. Any generic pilates routine, or classical pilates, or fitness pilates (whether mat based or reformer based) is entirely inappropriate as a tool for recovery from a prolapsed disc because more than half of the standard exercise routine will aggravate or even increase your injury. At the Sogunro Practice we use only condition-specific Applied Pilates exercises that have been clinically tried and tested, firstly to activate and then to strengthen the muscles that stabilise and support the spine.

For more information to help you find the right type of pilates, take a look at these articles in our Advice section.

Other advice we provide for you

We can help you to understand what has caused your prolapsed disc, for example sudden trauma to your spine (eg lifting a heavy weight badly), or sustained stress to the spine (eg long term poor posture during specific activities) and how to prevent another occurrence. Further, we can advise you on how to manage your condition long-term and review your activities of daily living so you can aim to restore your function to safely return to your desired level of activity, be it to be able to walk to the local shop or complete a triathlon.

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