Slipped Discs: Is There Such a Thing?

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Grace Walker, physical and occupational therapist and nutrition, asks what do you know about intervertebral discs? You probably do know that they are commonly associated with words like pain or discomfort. Perhaps you’ve heard some say “I’ve ‘slipped’ a disc in my back”. Many people believe that discs are fragile, but how much truth is there to that? Keep reading and you may be surprised!

If you’ve read the title, and you suffer from back pain, you might have done a double-take. The point is– discs don’t simply “slip” out of place. If you have the picture in your head that discs slip like a bar of soap in the shower, you’ve got the wrong idea.


What is the function of the disc?

Every segment of your spine has discs, except for the last few vertebrae in the top of your cervical (neck) spine. Discs are composed of several layers of cartilage that surround an inner gel-like center material, called the nucleus pulposus. The end plate which connects to the actual vertebrae is both bony and cartilaginous, and creates an exceptionally strong connection. This makes it IMPOSSIBLE for discs to ‘slip’. They do not slip out of place like a banana peel! The nucleus pulposus, can however ooze out and press on a nerve root.  This is called a protrusion.  This protrusion can break of and become a herniation.


Can discs become injured?

Yes. Can discs heal? Yes. Are they strong? More than you know! A study examined the results of strength tests in both younger and older populations. They found it takes 740 lbs. of force to compress the disc height 1mm in young subjects and 460 lbs. in older patients. Ultimately, it was concluded that the discs are VERY strong. However, we know that shearing forces, that might be experienced while lifting and twisting, or blunt force trauma, from things such as car accidents, are much more likely to injure discs.


At Walker Physical Therapy and Pain Center, we provide personalized therapy programs for each patient. Our trained therapists have will assess your injuries, old and new, and goals to design a physical therapy program to help you overcome injuries.


Walker Physical Therapy and Pain Center

1111 W. Town and Country Rd., Ste. 1

Orange, CA 92868

(714) 997-5518

Visit our website for more valuable information and helpful tips

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Posture Perfect

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Poor posture is a direct consequence of a modern lifestyle. Poor posture can add years to an individual’s appearance without the slightest hint to the individual. It’s likely that you may have poor posture and not know it, unless a physical therapist points it out. The causes of poor posture include:

  1. Habit: The unnatural posture of sitting at work (hunched over a computer), standing with uneven weight distribution, and leaning forward with a rounded back tend to add up and cause a permanent, unnatural alignmeWorkstationGraphicnt of the spine. Unless we remind ourselves to “sit up straight”, the “bad” posture becomes “normal”.
  2. Injury: If your back, neck or shoulder muscles have been injured, you may find it challenging to sit up straight. Injury or weakness in certain muscles can cause you to slouch due to pain.
  3. Stress: Undergoing physical and/or mental stress can be exhausting on your body. Many people, when stressed, switch to shallow breathing which directly affects overall body posture. This can happen quite easily while moving furniture and appliances, or by lifting heavy boxes, or even by picking infants, children, and toddlers improperly.
  4. Genetics: Unfortunately, poor posture can be passed from generation to generation.
  5. Shoes: Wearing comfortable shoes is essential for most activities. This is not just limited to to the gym, running, or sports, but for every situation that requires periods of standing, walking, or moving in general. Inappropriate footwear can to lead to generalized back pain, hip/knee pain, and postural problems.

The truth is – overcoming poor posture can be challenging, especially if its been a long time in the making. There are proper techniques for moving and lifting heavy items, and tips to keep you from getting injured:

  • Try to stretch prior to physical exertion.
  • When pushing, pulling, or lifting, always take advantage of the strength in your legs, taking special care not to rely on your back for power.
  • To lift a box, bend your knees and pull the box close to your stomach. If the box is on the floor, don’t bend over to pick it up; even light boxes pose a hazard if they are picked up incorrectly. With any activity, it is always a good idea to keep your back straight as often as possible.

Poor posture can also be an indicator of a more serious spinal condition, such as scoliosis, an abnormal spinal curve. Scoliosis may be present from birth, or it may develop over time, although in most cases, its true cause is not fully understood. Scoliosis can be very painful because it causes misalignment throughout the entire body, but it may be diagnosed as the result of rib, hip and shoulder problems, muscle variations in the back, or nerve dysfunction.

slouching people cartoon

Overall, the best way to prevent unwarranted injury is by using common sense and maintaining good posture. This is exactly where Walker Physical Therapy & Pain Center can help you. Our team of experts can alleviate poor posture and help restore muscle balance and proper joint alignment. we also provide you with the tools and knowledge to maintain good posture for life!

Practice Makes Perfect!

If you experience aches and pains as a result of poor posture, a  good starting point is to try and connect your posture one day at a time. At work, place a small reminder on your computer, desk, or workspace to keep aware of your position, especially if you will be sitting for extended periods of time.image

Self awareness is part of the solution. If your body has found its  way into an unnatural “comfort zone”, remind yourself that each day you sit up straight brings you one day closer to relief. We will evaluate you to determine exactly what must be done to restore optimum posture and to relieve aches and pains, allowing you to function better and breathe more efficiently.

Physical Therapy as a Solution

Physical therapy is a proven solution for poor posture and associated aches and pains. Give us a call today and take advantage of our knowledge and expertise. We will teach you the right methods to correct and improve your posture and to continue to be “posture perfect”.

Our skilled staff will provide you with a precise, targeted exercise plan (and tips on exercises to avoid) to restore optimum posture. We will also teach you the correct ways to sit and stand, move and lift items, get in and out of bed and exercise/breathing techniques to minimize strain on your joints. So pick up the phone and give us a call. Good posture is what our bodies were designed for, and that’s exactly what we can help you achieve!

Walker Physical Therapy & Pain Center

1111 W. Town & Country Rd. Ste. 1

Orange, Orange County, CA 92868

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Caring for Arthritic Joints

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Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. This degenerative joint disease is a chronic condition characterized  by the breakdown of joint cartilage, leading to bones rubbing against each other. Typically, it affects the ‘bigger’ joints in the body, like the hip, knee, shoulder, even the spine. This leads to progressive stiffness, inflammation, pain and loss of mobility in the joint.image

Many people think that exercising with osteoarthritis is difficult, even impossible, because of the pain. The truth is that an arthritic joint needs to get nutrition, and there is no better way to provide joints their nutrients than movement itself. Exercise is actually beneficial for those with osteoarthritis, but there are some things to remember.

  • Exercise will help you feel better, reduce pain, and improve your ability to do daily activities if done regularly.
  • A common symptom is pain after activity, which may make you reluctant to exercise. However, you can help relieve pain with heat or ice to stay active.
  • Ice is a great drug-free pain reliever. It helps decrease joint swelling and pain. If your joint hurts, apply ice for 15 minutes. If you don’t have a cold pack, you can buy one from our office or a bag of frozen vegetables (like peas) will do the trick.
  • Exercise should be balanced with rest and joint care. If your joints hurt or you notice redness or swelling, rest your joints, then try a little exercise.
  • Sharp or unusual pain may be a sign of injury. Talk to your physical therapist or health professional if you have new or more intense pain.
  • Always check with your doctor before starting an exercise program.

Joints and muscles need to be exercised to prevent stiffness and weakness. Also, exercise will make you feel better and help you maintain a healthy weight. Excess body weight places extra force and pressure on arthritic joints, which helps osteoarthritis progress more rapidly.

Why Should I Exercise?

Here’s what happens without exercise. Less movement means more stiffness in your joints, making your osteoarthritis progress faster. Research suggests that if your joint is unusually loose or does not line up normally, some exercises may hurt more than help your joints. Your physical therapist is the right professional to help you determine what exercise is best for you.image

Stretching and strengthening exercises will help prevent
associated stiffness and reduce stress on the joint.
For example, strong thigh muscles will minimize some of the stress off the weight-bearing joints of the knee and hips.

Exercise for people with osteoarthritis can help to:

  • Improve joint function and movement
  • Possibly delay or prevent the need for surgery. (For example, the need for knee replacements due to severe knee osteoarthritis)
  • Improve strength, posture and balance in older adults, reducing the risk of falls.

Spring Into Group Exercise!

Exercising with a friend, or in a group is a lot easier than exercising alone. People with osteoarthritis who exercise in groups have less pain, less depression, and better joint mobility.

Here are 4 tips to keep your joints healthy:

  • Watch your weight. That’s the best thing you can do for your joints. Research shows that with every pound gained, a person puts four times more stress on the knees.
  • Strong muscles cushion your joints. If your muscles
    are weak, your joints take the beating, especially your
    knees, which support your entire body weight. Talk to
    your therapist before starting any exercise on your own.image
    You don’t want to strain the very joint you are trying to
  • Low-impact exercises like biking and swimming are great for arthritic hips and knees, but this varies from one person to another.
  • Find out what exercises are safe for your joints. Research shows that those who participate in a home exercise program and also attend an exercise class have better gains in function. So if you don’t know what exercises are right for you, call us today to see what’s best for your joints! We can help you spring into action!

Walker Physical Therapy & Pain Center

1111 W. Town & Country Rd. Ste. 1

Orange, Orange County, CA 92868

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