How can you tell the difference between a pulled muscle or slipped disc

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I jarred my back doing sport yesterday .... didn't think it was too bad ... but once I stopped moving, it went into spasm ... I am in such pain I can hardly move ... cant sit, stand or sleep...would anyone advise a doctor's appointment or turn up at A&E... or can you just turn up at the pain clinic at a hospital... or do you need a referral? Thank you

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10 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi Simon,

    Sorry to hear that you're suffering with your back, hope it improves quickly for you! 

    Usually we wouldn't suspect a disc problem unless someone was suffering from pain, pins and needles or numbness running down one or both legs in an episode like this. Unless you are suffering from pain in both legs, problems with bladder or bowel function, numbness in the saddle area or loss of strength in your legs, you're likely to be sent away from A+E. 

    If you are really struggling, the best bet is to make a same-day appointment with your doctor who should be able to properly assess you and give you a short prescription of stronger pain killers.

    Most episodes of back pain like this clear up within a few weeks, even when the initial pain is very severe. Pain clinics require a referral from the GP and only really see "chronic" conditions (over 3 months of pain) in the UK. 

    Hope this helps, good luck!

    Will

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  • Posted

    I have to agree with Sciaticawill. Everything he said is true. I just want to add that if you cannot get into your doctor immediately start putting ice on the part that hurts 20 minutes every hour, and take some ibuprofen. Both of these things will help reduce inflammation and inflammation is your enemy.
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    • Posted

      Great advice. I would keep applying for as long as the problem is painful, 20 mins at a time.

      Inflammation is certainly not your friend, I would recommend seeing if you can add some natural anti-inflammatory foods into your diet where possible, too. 

      Some examples of these are: 

      -          Tomatoes

      -          Green, leafy veg (kale, broccoli, sprouts)

      -          Nuts (almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts)

      -          Extra virgin olive oil

      -          Oily fish, like salmon, tuna, mackerel

      -          Bok Choi

      -          Blueberries

      -          Pineapple

      -          Coconut oil

      Will

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    • Posted

      Do you know if taking omega-3 is just as good as eating oily fish. I have a hard time eating a lot of it and it usually boils down to msybe once a month. I love it but I just don't get it very often. I've tried turmeric which is also an anti-inflammatory and it upset my stomach.

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    • Posted

      I think omega-3 is the key ingredient for anti-inflammation so I would assume taking a supplement would certainly give you some benefits. Ginger is a good substitute for turmeric and is also anti-inflammatory.

      I use coconut oil for all my cooking now as it has a huge range of benefits alongside being anti-inflammatory and is an easy substitute for traditional oil. 

      Hope this helps,

      Will

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    • Posted

      I think omega-3 is the key ingredient for anti-inflammation so I would assume taking a supplement would certainly give you some benefits. Ginger is a good substitute for turmeric and is also anti-inflammatory.

      I use coconut oil for all my cooking now as it has a huge range of benefits alongside being anti-inflammatory and is an easy substitute for traditional oil. 

      Hope this helps,

      Will

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  • Posted

    Or 20 mins on 20 mins off, keep doing it until you get relief you can't over do it😊

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  • Posted

    Hey simon17027, 

    I would like to react on your question how to tell the difference between a pulled muscle or a slipped disc. I am an osteopath and in our education we learn the difference. When you pull a muscle you will feel that specific muscle as very tense, painful and stiff. This might have as result that you will feel the structures around that muscle as supersensitive. 

    The symptoms with a slipped disc are reversed, when a disc is slipped this will put pressure on your nerves in that region which will have as symptoms that the muscles affected by those nerves will lose their sensitivity. For example, if it is your lower back, you will feel numbness in your legs (like they are sleeping) and later you might experience some power reduction.

    As an osteopath the symptoms you are complaining about might suggest you are dealing with a somatic dysfunction (=vertebral blockage) due to your trauma. This also makes the structures around high sensitive and restrictive to movement. It can irritate the nerves coming from that level (vertebrae) and those increase the sensitivity of the muscles connected with them. We have different safety-techniques to determine whether it might be a hernia or just a joint restriction, once we’re sure we perform the treatment. A manipulation consists of a high velocity, low amplitude thrust. This to produce a joint cavitation. The manipulation may be accompanied with a releasing sound. (Maitland et al 2001) This releases the pressure on your nerves and should relieve your pain.

     

    Hope this helped you.

    Regards

     

    Reference:

    Maitland, G.D., Hengeveld, E., Banks, K., English, K. (2001) Maitland's Vertebral Manipulation. 6th ed. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.

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