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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What should I do to assist prolapsed disc recovery?

    I have been battling a L4/L5 prolapsed disc for the last 6mts with sciatica to the foot. I am 37 fit male. I initially went to an Osteopath for 5 sessions but I did not respond to the treatment and he let me go. For the 1st 6 wks until I got a cortisone shot I could not stand or walk for more than 5 mins.

    The injection helped and I got fully mobile again. I followed a course of gentle stretches under the guidance of my physio, 8 km walks each day and then built up to jogging. Continued to commute my bike. Still had some discomfort when sitting at work through the day but broke it up. All was going well and the surgeon sent me on my way.

    Then right before Xmas it went again and I lay up for 3 days before it receded. 3 weeks later it’s back again and am struggling to walk. Not sure where to go from here as I just cant shake it. Have not ruled out surgery even though I am able to manage the pain someway when lying down. Am interested to hear other peoples insights on this topic. Thanks
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 1


    Matthew Tuck

    Exercise Physiologist

    I am an accredited Exercise Physiologist with over 5 years of experience improving client's chronic disease outcomes. I am a strong supporter in multidisciplinary approaches … View Profile

    I would recommend seeing an exercise physiologist who specialises in lower back pain to develop a program of exercises to strengthen your core muscles. By increasing the strength of muscles that support the spine it is possible to reduce the occurrence and severity of lower back pain.

  • 3


    Dr Adrian Clegg


    My focus is an Upper Cervical Technique known as Atlas Orthogonal. I combine this with Craniopathy and Sacro Occipital Technique (SOT) as I have found … View Profile

    Firstly I would suggest you don't spend extended time in a seated position and I would even recommend working from a standing desk where and when possible. I would also suggest a thorough assessment (including spinal X-rays) to determine just why the L4/5 disc prolapsed. Was it an injury? Was the L4/5 compensating for other areas of dysfunction? Until you determine why it happened it would be hard to affectively address the disc injury thoroughly. This could indeed include a program of rehab type exercises combined with lifestyle modifications and various spinal adjustments to correct spinal imbalances throughout the spine, and not just the lower back.
    Good luck!

  • 4



    HealthShare Member

    Thanks for the responses. I'm pretty sure it's an injury after getting off a long haul flight and then doing an awkward heavy lift in the airport. Prior to that incident I was having niggling lower back pain but at the time thought little of it. 

    The disc sequestrated and there is a free fragment lodged in my spine. We believe it has reduced in size by about 50%. It probably makes sense considering my current symptoms. It was around a 1.2cm piece from my first MRI. 

    Im on a wait and see approach as recommended by my surgeon. Im not taking any pain killers. Usually the discomfort increases through the day until I call it a night. Wake up feeling ok and the cycle continues.

    I am continuing with my stretches. Walking about 10km a day. Off the bike now. Bed early. Maintaining a healthy diet and increasing my intake of appropriate supplements. I have a desk job but I now stand for at least 50% a day at higher benches and keep moving around. Stand at meetings etc. Got myself an ergonomic kneel chair for home. 

    I suppose my first thoughts is to sort out the current issue and then look to avoid such a scenario happening again - however that may be. 

  • 5


    Sandra McFaul


    Do you suffer from chronic lower back pain or neck pain? Based in SYDNEY, Sandra is 1 of ONLY 15 Physiotherapists in Australia with ADVANCED … View Profile

    Hi There,
    First thing to avoid is flexion stretches (bending knees to chest, hamstring)  All these activities cause the disc to migrate backwards and cause more bulging.  Generally speaking, you have to start doing extension exercises.  If the pain reduces in your leg and is more in your back, then that's a good sign- it's called centralisation.  Lots of reserach has been done on this. 

    Basically a physiotherapist trained in the McKenzie Method is someone to seek help from if you haven't already.  Make sure they are at least credentialled - know the basics…. or better still, someone with a McKenzie Diploma - Dip MDT.

  • 2



    HealthShare Member

    I have exactly the same problem. 8 years ago I had a work related injury lifting a crate a milk and got a prolapsed disc with a significant bulge in the L4/L5 part of my back. This resulted in a pain down my right leg. Luckily I've always walked and from the first day even though it took me 25mins to get out of bed I kept moving. Over the next 3to 4years my back went badly about another 7 times. Four surgeons through work told me that it would probably need an operation if it kept  happening.

    i decided to get acupuncture. Even though I have to manage it the back has only gone twice since I had it done. I don't get the nerve butterflies in my lower back and backside anymore. I still have a problem but am not in so much pain anymore. I know the signals and am careful. Before the acupuncture any kind of sitting for about half an hour meant me struggling to straighten on standing up and driving a car was really dire. Now I can do these and only certain sitting positions causes a problem. At least in means my day is pain free unless I do the wrong thing or my body sends me a sign to be careful.

    hope this may help.


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