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Have you ever been told you have slipped a disc? Myths and 5 top cures talked about discs… here!

Slipped Disc

At WDC Physiotherapy we see a LOT of clients struggling with back pain and I mean a lot! At least 75% of our week, every week, is filled with people who have bad back. We see people with achy backs through to those in agony who literally drag themselves in to the clinic.

As it's the most common condition we treat we are experts in this area.

With that being said I want to talk to you about those pesky discs that we hear so much about. I am going to talk to you about one common myth about discs and successful ways to get over any disc pain or injury.

One of the most common misconceptions that we hear as Physiotherapists is that people say they have “SLIPPED THEIR DISC”. They have either decided this by consulting “Doctor Google” or they have been told this by a real doctor, health professional or listened to a family member or friend.

Who do you know anyone who has been told that they have a slipped disc? I bet there is a least one person you know.

Discs make up a key component of our spine, they are sandwiched between two of our spinal bones called vertebrae. There’s a perception out there that discs are weak and fragile.

The disc is sandwiched between 2 end plates that are very strong indeed and act like a pressure plate to ensure that there is no slipping. The end plate is in fact attached to the outer layer of the disc.

So now I bet you are thinking if discs are so strong why do so many people struggle with problems from them? Let me explain… discs tend to bulge not slip!...

Think about a yummy jammy doughnut… The jams sits in the middle and when we take a bite in to the doughnut what happens?.... That’s right the jam oozes out. Similar happens with discs. With time the discs can dry out and the jam in the middle can peak through the outer lining. This is called a “disc bulge”.

In more severe cases the inner material (the jam) can come through the outer layer but this is rare! In fact this is what happened to me!

Disc problems can indeed lead to back pain that can aggravate the spinal nerve(s) causing leg pain. (Sciatica if coming from the lower levels of the low back).

What to do if you have been told "You have a slipped disc"

1. Get a 2nd opinion

This really is the best way forward…. As physiotherapists we are often best placed to review your back pain and look at the big picture. Having a disc issue is common but we need to find out why that disc problem occurred in the first place as there will be a reason.

2. Keep moving

Have you ever been told to rest in bed, on the floor if you back is in acute pain? Your doctor may have told you to do this. This is the worst thing you can do…why? Because you will get stiffer and weaker which will give you more pain, not less!

3. Do the right exercises at the right time

The exact exercises will depend on how your symptoms present but keeping active and strong is a great starting point. Please don’t take advice from friends or family about back pain or sciatica or disc problems unless they are a qualified health professional and have fully assessed your back.

And please please do not do exercises you find on google, facebook or any other social media channel, as even if given by health professionals they are generic exercises and not specific to you, your body and your pain problem. Bespoke exercises are ALWAYS best as you know they are tailored for your specific needs.

4. Get good quality treatment

Go see an expert in back pain treatment. You will need a bespoke treatment plan tailored for you, your symptoms and your body for back pain to resolve. This is not a one size fits all problem.

Things to look out for when choosing who is best to help treat you is anyone can put you on a machine, tell you to use ice or heat but none of these solve the root cause of the problem. They are like a band aid treating the symptoms and not the cause and you will not get pain free with this approach. If you don’t get the cause sorted out, mark my words your back pain will be back to haunt you at some point.

5. Pilates

This is a great structured form of exercise to allow you engage those core muscles, get you moving well and get you on the way to getting out of pain.

Word of warning… please choose your instructor carefully as Pilates is not a protected title and anyone can set up a class even after watching just one DVD!

If you have aches and pains it’s always best to be in a smaller class (no more than 10-12 people max) and be taught by a health professional such as a physiotherapist as they will give you exercises that are safe and they will come round and check you are doing the exercises correctly.

So to round up please remember “DISCS DON’T SLIP!” They never have and they never will! But they can be helped to get better!

For more information and tips about natural ways to live with less back pain – go to my website where you can get a free copy of my back tips guide that we give to clients at WDC Physiotherapy: www.wdcphysio.wpenginepowered.com/back-pain

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– by lead Physiotherapist Wendy McCloud



Wendy founded WDC in September 2006. She has worked in both the public and private sectors. Within the NHS, Wendy worked as a Senior Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist and an Extended Scope Practitioner Physiotherapist as part of an Orthopaedic Consultant’s team specialising in Shoulder Pain. Wendy has treated royalty for Shoulder pain through referrals from her close links with a top Orthopaedic Shoulder Surgeon. More recently, Wendy has been the sole choice physiotherapist for all Essex-based referrals from London Shoulder surgeon Mr Matthew Sala. Wendy also worked within the national rugby union as the head physiotherapist for Southend Rugby Football Club. She led the medical service at the club for 11 years, working with players who achieved county honours and representative honours for various countries such as England, Samoa, Australia, and New Zealand.
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