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Studio Australia Barcelona Blog

How to recover from a herniated disc in 3 weeks

Part 1

Director Natalia Laing was diagnosed with a challenging back injury 5 years ago, but not only that, she was also told that she had serious degenerative issues due to her career as an athlete and contemporary dancer and she would need to understand that these problems were permanent and could complicate her recovery.

The irony was that this type of diagnosis is her specially as a health professional and now it was her body that she needed to repair and care for.

This 3 part blog series is her story about how it happened, how she recovered, information that you would want to know about disc injuries, what she learnt as a rehabilitation specialist and her ongoing maintenance program.

How Natalia herniated her disc

Five years ago Nat bent over to demonstrate a glut stretch on the barrel in class, something she does at least 10 times a day, and was unable to straighten up properly. Like most of us when you feel that twinge she just got on with the class and thought the moment would pass. The next day she couldn’t get out of bed, do a wee or walk by her self. She was helpless.

The only way she could move was by crawling on the floor and she was in excruciating pain.

Over the past 23 years Natalia has successfully treated 100’s of people with disc injuries and has developed a unique method of Pilates that helps people to get back to work, back to their sports and return to enjoying regular life activities within weeks.

Her goal is always to ensure that her clients become stronger, understand their injury, the source of their pain and that they have a renewed confidence to know that despite having an injury flair ups can be managed.

So, on with Nat’s journey about how she was out of pain and back at work in 3 weeks.

Medical terms for back injuries

Before we get to Nat’s diagnosis it’s probably helpful to understand the terms that doctors or rehabilitation practitioners may use to describe back and spine injury.

Being diagnosed with disc problems can be confusing.

Medical practitioners use all of the descriptions listed here to describe disc injury depending on the severity of the damage to the disc:

  •   Herniated
  •   Slipped
  •   Ruptured
  •   Prolapsed
  •   Compressed
  •   Protruding
  •   Bulging

Nat’s disc injury medical diagnosis

Once Nat was finally able to move again she went to the hospital for an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging).  A MRI is the only test in which you can see damage to the discs and soft tissues around your spine.

This is Nat’s diagnosis:

•   signs of lumbar spondylosis (degenerative osteoarthritis of the joints between the center of the spinal vertebrae and/or neural foramina)

•   schmorl (these are protrusions of disc material into the surface of the vertebral body)

•   small hernia acute-subacute at the bottom of L4 vertebral level

•   rectification of physiological lordosis in supine position

•   degenerative level changes discs L1-L2, L2-L3, L4-L5 and L5-S1

•   small focal posterior protrusion L1-L2

•   loss of disc height space L2-L3 disc herniation extruding and later migrated superiorly and foraminal

•   diffuse bulging disc L4-L5

•   minimum focal protrusion foraminal Left L5-sl Image rupture of the fibrous ring

•   degenerative changes in the lumbar facet articulation

•   lumbar spinal canal at the level of L3-S1 segment normal size

If you come to Studio Australia Barcelona for care we ask that you bring your medical or specialist diagnosis and any MRI or X-Rays to assist us to create the right program to care for your body.

A simple description of a herniated disc

Between the vertebrae in your spine you have discs. These discs are like little cushions that have a donut like ring or edge and a softer part in the middle. They separate the bones of the spine and allow you to bend, flex and twist and take the impact of movement between the vertebra, like a shock absorber.

To the right is a simple diagram.

When the outside ring, the donut, tears (ruptures) or pushes out (bulges), the soft center can also push out beyond the rings and this is called a herniated disc. It can happen for many reasons, wear and tear, age, lifting heavy items, straining, bending – as is what happened with Natalia – and sometimes something as simple as sneezing.

A degenerated disc is the aging of these discs.  It can be due to age itself or due to overuse, smoking obesity or disease

It’s important that you understand that this is a very simple and non-medical description of an injury that can be very serious.

Coming up in Nat’s disc injury recovery program

•   The first 14 days – how to manage the pain and the fear.

•   What exercises you can do to help yourself at home?

•   Other complementary treatments Natalia recommends for your recovery.

•   Tips for the ongoing maintenance program you can rely on.

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