Sports and Spinal Physio LTD
24 Tallon Road
CM13 1TE

Low Back Pain and Sciatica: A Case Study

Low Back Pain and Sciatica: A Case Study

During the summer patient X came into the physiotherapy clinic for an assessment. She had been experiencing back pain and sciatica on and off for several years. Previous clinicians had told her she most likely had a “slipped disc” or bulging disc. Past treatment had included manipulation and exercises but all with limited success. To make matters worse this particular patient was a Yoga instructor and needed to be fit to take her daily classes and at this current time was unable to bend forward from her back (which we all know is vital in Yoga!) without leg pains.

After careful assessment of her bending we noticed that she flexed (bent) her lower two back segments more than the segments adjacently above (L4-5 was more mobile than L1-2-3). We call this an area of relative flexibility i.e. one or more joints that are more flexible than their adjacent joints. We explained to Patient X that there was possibly a bulging disc however the relative increased flexibility of these segments was the cause of her recurrent pains and probably the cause of the bulging disc in the first place.

She was taught a series of special exercises called dissociation drills. These were carried out 2-3 times per day and done with a view to decreasing the amount of flexibility at the L4-5 through improving “muscle stiffness” and increasing flexibility at L1-2-3. The idea behind these exercises was to restore some balance to the lower back segments so that bending was more equally shared across the whole spine. After 6-8 weeks of practicing the drills, Patient X reported a complete resolution of her problem and in fact commented that it changed the way she her practiced and taught her yoga! As far as we know She has been pain free ever since.

Just because you have a bulging or dehydrated disc it doesn’t mean you can’t get rid of your pain. Sometimes the same faulty movement habits that caused the bulging disc in the first place continue long after the initial injury, causing repeated episodes of pain. All it takes is some dedication and commitment and you too could have a pain free healthy back again. For more information on the concept of relative flexibility please feel free to email or call us on the details below.

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