Herniated (Slipped) Disc - Information

What is it: 

  • Nucleus pulposus is core of disc and becomes hard and protrudes through the Annulus fibrosus a protective capsule that thins and gets torn.  Pressing into the spinal canal
  • Caused by trauma or aging, if protrusion presses on spinal cord, it can cause local or referred pain along nerve path


  • Lumber hernited disc can create sciatic pain traveling down leg, also chronic pain and lack of mobility in lower back
  • Thoracic herniated disc can create pain in shoulders or neck movement.
  • Aggravated by coughing or any sudden movement
  • Tingling, numbness, pain, heat, lack of mobility

How is it Diagnosed:

  • X-ray, CT or MRI Scan
  • Massage Therapist can use Fajerztajn’s test (Rattray&Ludwig 2000 p1095) to assess with a raising leg test
  • Palpation skills

Can be misdiagnosed as:

  • Some people with pain in the neck or back my show in xray a herniated disc but be pain free
  • Other muscular or dengenerative conditions could be causing similar symptoms to a herniated disc, such as bone tumors or osteophytes pressing on nerves


  • Cauda Equina Syndrome, Chronic pressure on spinal cord in the lumbar region causing increased pain, loss of bladder, bowel and sexual function, numbness in lower body, can lead to paralysis
  • Lack of stability in the area

Who gets it:

  • After accidents
  • Repetitive movements causing trauma to the area especially in
  • 35-55 yr olds (walton 2011) In my experience as a practitioner, this age group are participating in sports or work based activity with bad body mechanics.  Due to aging tissues, their body starts to get damaged


  • Depends on location and what it’s pressing on, if pressing high up on sciatic nerve can be harder to relieve the pressure on the area as there is less space
  • Some discs will reabsorb over time

Who to refer to:

  • Immediately to GP or hospital of Cauda Equina present
  • Personal Trainer for appropriate exercise regime

How to treat:

  • If chronic pain persists, various medical treatments (Lowe 2009) are injections or scraping away the herniation and possible disc fusion.  Irritation from car tissue can create ongoing problems
  • In my clinic ongoing treatment can greatly increase mobility and decrease pain

What timescale:

  • Some herniated discs can re-absorb into the soft-tissue quickly
  • Could be six treatments if compression is released and more space relieves pressure
  • Otherwise ongoing treatment and maintenance