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disc herniation

Disc Herniations, Sciatica, Nerve Compression Explained!

Disc Bulge/Herniation, Nerve Compression and Back Pain Explained

Disc herniations, bulges, and compression to the nerve are common, especially in the lower neck and lower back area.  As a result of this many people can have pain, numbness, tingling, shooting pain, altered sensation, and a burning sensation.  One of the most common conditions we hear about and see is called Sciatica and it occurs when there is compression to the disc in the lower back and pain can run down the leg.

The spine is very important as you may know already because it houses part of our central nervous system (CNS) and relays messages, information, and fluid to our brain (which is the master controller).  The issue with disc compression usually occurs over time and with poor mechanics of the spine, the disc can wear out.  This can cause degeneration of the spine where the two surfaces come together.  In addition, if degeneration occurs long enough or serious enough it can cause spinal canal stenosis, which is where the area of the spinal cord has reduced space to move.  Also, what can happen is that the center of the disc can begin to migrate (most often backwards).

When a disc begins to migrate back, simply put it can put pressure on the nerve roots and/or spinal canal which may lead to some of the pain and symptoms we had mentioned before.  If the compression is serious enough it can cause weakness within the arms, legs, etc and may even need surgery.  Most cases do not require this, however, this type of disc pain injury can effect other areas of the body as the body will compensate.

Due to years of compression and poor mechanics it may take a few months to alleviate the symptoms but even after the pain is gone, patients will have stress and tension that has been placed on the spine and nerves (CNS).  This is particularly why it important to continue care, exercises, rehab, etc well after the pain has gone away.

Final thought, while these injuries may actually take some time to heal, with quality and persistent care you can most definitely recovery in full from these types of injury. MOST IMPORTANTLY, keep in mind that pain is often the very last symptom to come on and the very first thing to go away.

Iliopsoas Stretch – The Golden Ticket to Heal Low Back Pain?

So if sitting is the new smoking then what can we do about it?  Have a desk job or do you spend long hours traveling? Do you find that your hamstrings are always tight? Well, this stretch is something that will help low back pain, and postural dysfunction all at the same time. Yup, and in two minutes your back and your hips will likely feel better!

The primary muscle involved in sitting and hip flexion is called the iliopsoas or the psoas muscle. Its prime function is to flex the hip. The reason this muscle so important is because it attaches to the lumbar spine. Sitting for long periods of time and excessive hip flexion (commonly seen in runners and sprinters) can tighten the muscle to a point where it can affect your stride (decreasing its length), affecting the pelvis, and also creating low back pain.

A chronically shortened  muscle (that goes for any muscle) is considered weak. A muscle that is tight is often tender, has increased muscle tone and therefore also has a decreased blood supply. In addition, a tight muscle will throw off alignment by pulling two joints (or the joints that it crosses) closer together.

Since the iliopsoas attaches on the anterior or front part of the lumbar spine and to the hip joint, pulling these two surfaces closer  often results in pelvic unleveling (tilting), create a hyperlordosis (increasing the curve) and even cause that “my hamstrings have always been tight” phenomenon.  An increase in the curve within lumbar spine can cause compression on the disc and narrow the joint spaces which may cause low back pain, a pinched nerve, arthritis, degenerative disc disease and other hosts of problems.

Stretching out the muscle will help blood flow, and take pressure off the joint by decreasing the compression on the spine!  Finally, you will also notice that you have more flexibility and an increase in mobility within the hips.

Want to check out the video?  Click here to see how to stretch the hip.

How has this stretch helped you?