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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Minor disc bulge with annular tear L4-5

    6 weeks ago I suffered with unexplained back pain. MRI showed minor disc bulge with annular fissure. After 5 days of pain management I was discharged home. Sunday just gone, I was laying on my sofa. When I sat up I felt like I was hit by a sledge hammer and an inner explosion to my lower spine. I felt faint for a while and nauseous. As the day went on my spine became more painful even where the skin surface stung to the touch and sciatic pain was through my left hip, buttock, back of leg, side of calf with burning sensation on shin. I was taken to hospital in an ambulance with unbearable pain Sunday night. All I was given was Endone 4 hourly which really didn't help at all then discharged to take care of my own pain Tuesday. I can barely walk. My pain is more severe since the hammer sensation incident than 6 weeks ago.
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  • 1




    Rob Nash

    Exercise Physiologist

    I'm sorry to hear you have had such a horrible experience. I suggest you seek help from a physiotherapist who has a good reputation for treating the lower back and hip. While it is likely that your disc bulge is irritating you, it is usually easily treated with conservative managemeing (ie. without invasive options such as surgery or ongoing pain medication).

    I hope this helps.

  • 2


    James is passionate about osteopathy, it’s philosophy and works with facilitating the bodies innate drive for health and balance. He enjoys teaching patients about how … View Profile

    Sorry to hear. It's amazing how debilitating back pain can be. We don't realise how much we use it in day to day activities until we are no longer able to.

    Annular fissuring and disc bulges are are quite common. Although ,excessively painful as described above, do respond to conservative management approx 6-8 weeks. The good news is there doesn't appear to be any nerve root compression which would result in symptoms running down into the leg. Keep heat on the area, avoid bending forwards, lifting and seek an allied health opinion for more specific management.

    Once the acute nature of your symptoms have improved, it is important to establish the reason they came on in the first place. Osteopaths look the how the body functions as a unit and try to work out the structure that isn't pulling it's weight and causing a mechanical overload of the the back in this case. Rehabilitation exercises will follow in this process in order to improve strength and neuromuscular coordination which will be compromised following injury.

    Hope this helps,


  • 2


    Helen Potter


    As a Specialist Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist, with extensive experience and highly advanced qualifications, as well as excellent communication skills, I can help you to: Become informed … View Profile

    It was unfortunate that you did not have the information you needed to help you understand pain and to help your back recover.

    What you have described is a common scenario. The small tear in the disc was healing but when you sat up with your legs out straight you put maximum stress on the healing scar. If you consult a Specialist Physiotherapist, or very experienced Physiotherapist, at the beginning of an incident, we explain what is happening, how good the recovery will be if you are patient, and most importantly, what to do and what not do to facilitate healing. 

    It is not too late. From what you have said there are many options and it is extremely unlikely for you to need surgery. Try to avoid getting Googlitis and listening to too many unprofessional back sufferers or you will get confused. Seek out a professional to guide your recovery. See for accurate information. Take Care Helen Potter FACP

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