back pain

A slipped disc is a very painful type of spinal injury that is commonly seen in physiotherapy clinics Australia wide. To avoid it or learn how to deal with it if it ever happens, you need to know all the basics.

What Is a Slipped Disc?

The human spine is made up of bones stacked on top of each other—the vertebrae. Discs cushion these bones and protect them by acting as shock absorbers as you move throughout everyday activities such as walking, twisting, and lifting.

Discs are made up of two components: a soft inner gel and a rigid outer ring. A slipped disc (also known as disc prolapse or a herniated disc) occurs when the inner gel is forced through the rigid outer layer, making contact with the spinal cord.

A slipped disc can compress your spinal nerves, causing pain, discomfort, numbness, pins and needles, or other altered sensations along the affected nerve. You may also experience other areas of weakness through your arms or legs depending on the location of the disc. If you are diagnosed with a slipped disc, you need to begin a physiotherapy program immediately.

What Causes Slipped Discs?

The inner, gelatinous material of a spinal disc herniates when the outer layer becomes weak. This can be caused by certain motions. A perfect example is bending and twisting incorrectly to pick up a heavy object. This can also happen with age because discs lose the surrounding protective fluid as you grow older.

If your job involves lifting heavy objects, you may be at significant risk for a slipped disc. Weak muscles, a sedentary lifestyle, and overweight individuals also have a greater risk for a slipped disc.

Slipped discs are more prevalent in people between ages 30 and 50, and males are twice as prone as females.

How Do You Know If You Have a Slipped Disc? 

Any disc at any part of your spine can herniate, but the lower back is one of the most common areas where it occurs. Common symptoms of a slipped disc include: 

Pain and numbness on one side of the body

Pain that worsens after standing or sitting

Pain that worsens at night

Tingling, burning, pins and needles or other altered sensations

Radiating pain down your legs 

People experience pain very differently, and a slipped disc can manifest in many ways. It can also be difficult to tell the difference between pain caused by a normal muscle strain or a slipped disc without professional help. Backaches and muscle strain can go away within four to six weeks, while slipped discs progressively become more severe over time and last months if not cared for effectively.

How is a Slipped Disc Treated? 

Physiotherapy plays a significant role in recovering from a herniated disc. Not only to it help offer pain relief, but you will also learn how to condition your body so you can avoid any further injury.

Physiotherapy treatments for herniated discs include (but are not limited to):

Core Stability Exercises

Muscle Strengthening Exercises

Flexibility Exercises

Posture Realignment

Deep Tissue Massage/Joint Mobilisations


How to Prevent a Slipped Disc

It’s natural for our body structures to break down as we age. As with other physical injuries, there are steps to take to reduce the risk of developing a slipped disc. Here are some simple ways to prevent a slipped disc:

Exercise regularly to strengthen the muscles in your back and core

Stretch regularly to avoid progressive stiffening as you age

Maintain a healthy weight

If lifting heavy objects, look online for safe lifting techniques and adhere correctly.

Warm up effectively before exercise (Download our free warm up guide for office workers!)


A slipped disc can occur if you put too much stress through your spine during specific daily activities. If you’re experiencing radiating pain in your limbs or other slipped disc symptoms, don’t just grit your teeth through it. A good physiotherapist will help relieve your pain and prevent any further injury.

Are you looking for affordable physiotherapy in Bondi? Invigor Health is here to help you. We pride ourselves on giving clear, honest, and trustworthy advice, with a focus on evidence-based treatment. Schedule an online physiotherapy consultation with us today! 

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