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Spinal Disc Injuries

August 29, 2018

A spinal disc is the soft pad positioned in between each of the vertebrae of the spine. The vertebral disc acts as a spacer, shock absorber, and part of the cartilaginous joints that allow movement in the spine. Occasionally people experience injuries of these discs which can cause pain in the back and other parts of the body.



Bulging Discs


What is it?

  • This is where the disc is compressed but doesn’t burst.



  • The sack doesn’t burst so it doesn’t always cause pain.

  • Pain can result if the disc bulges to the point that it is pressing on one of the nerves.



  • Genetics

  • Obesity

  • Degeneration of the disc

  • Age

  • Muscular tension



If the bulge is from muscular tension, then asana practice can help reduce the amount of pressure on the disc.



Disc Herniation


What is it?

  • An area of the disc is weakened and the disc fluid pushes the weaker section out further.

  • This is different to a bulge because the area of the cartilage is weakened and possibly has tears in the fibres.



  • Back pain - Herniations tend to be to push the disc to the sides where the nerves are.

  • Not always back pain



  • Lifting heavy objects

  • Muscular imbalance

  • Genetics

  • Disc degeneration

  • Long-term misuse

  • Postural imbalance



Ruptured Discs


What is it?

  • The cartilaginous ring or disc itself tears from its outer wall to the centre where the fluid is. The fluid then leaks out of the disc.

  • When the fluid is lost from the disc, the space between the bones is reduced.

  • A herniated disc can progress into a herniated disc

  • A disc can be ruptured without beginning with herniation.



  • Extreme pain – the space between the bones is reduced so it can result in compression of the nerve roots.



Often requires surgery:

  1. The vertebrae is bolted together so that the space between then is maintained to alleviate pressure on the nerves. This can restrict movement and cause tension in areas around the fusion, potentially causing further disc problems.

  2. The disc could be replaced with a prosthetic



Yoga Implications:

  • Forward folds – try to keep the spine straight and avoid rounding which causes pressure on the disc.

  • Backbends – keep simple, they can relieve pressure on the front of the spine.

  • Fusions in the vertebrae – avoid moving deeply in one direction and then the other. This causes pressure in the vertebrae above and below the fusion.



  • If you are experiencing pain and suspect you have issues with your discs, it is advisable to see your doctor so that they can diagnose you properly and advise on the appropriate treatment.

  • If you are thinking of starting yoga and have a medical condition, it is advisable to check with your doctor.

  • If you are practicing yoga with disc problems or other conditions, always let the teacher know so that they can advise you on how to modify your practice. Remain mindful of the problem area and do not push yourself with anything that doesn’t feel right or feels painful.

  • If you are new to yoga it is advisable to practice under the guidance of a qualified teacher so they can help advise and correct alignment.



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