Slumping can cause spinal disc injury

low back pain

Slumping can cause spinal disc injury

Slumping feels nice but your spinal discs might be getting damaged!


We all slump – even physios slump – if they say they don’t then they’re lying. Slumping is a natural movement and position which we enjoy when relaxing watching tele, travelling in the car or when really knuckling down to some work. However the issues lies in the amount of time we are in the slumping position.

One very important fact that I have learnt about slumping which I now try and warn my patients of is this – when we slump the intervertebral disc material slowly but very surely starts to ‘creep’ towards the spinal cord. Continuous creep of this material will eventually push its way through the outer wall of the intervertebral disc and onto the spinal cord which can cause some potentially very painful symptoms and loss of function.

So let me explain to you what this ‘creep’ concept is as I’m sure it will make you think twice about slumping all day.

Here are some pictures of an intervertebral disc which sit between each vertebrae which in turn make the spinal column. You can see within this image the anatomy of the intervertebral disc.

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Intervertebral disc

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Spine anatomy




I equate the intervertebral disc to a jam doughnut (another telling sign that physios like to indulge as well – occasionally). So imagine the outer part of the disc is the dough of the doughnut and the squidgy part of the disc is the jam. If you squeeze the front of the jam doughnut then the jam will ooze out of the back. When we slump the pressure on the jam forces it backwards pushing against the wall of the disc (dough) so it starts to bulge and press on the spinal cord. This can often lead to nerve symptoms which may feel like a ‘deaness’ or deep seated aching in the leg or arm for example. If the bulge is increased then the dough can start to rupture and allow some of the jam to actually exit the disc and interfere with the spineal cord and this is when the pain will stat to ramp up and your brain will really try its best to avoid movement which causes the pain.


What symptoms arise from disc injury?

These are the most common symptoms from spinal disc injuries.

  • Pain from the back down the legs or leg (may reach as far as toes)
  • Pins and needles / numbness in the legs or leg
  • Loss of power in the legs / giving way of the legs when weight bearing
  • Numbness around the genitals
  • Inability to urinate
  • Pain coughing / sneezing / laughing


If you can relate to these and feel you might have a spinal disc injury then it would be strongly recommended that you get yourself booked in for a full examination with us. You may be experiencing other mechanical issues or reason for your symptoms but getting it checked out is incredibly important. Physios are very well suited to analysing your back and the rest of your body and can ascertain why you are feeling the way you are. Get in touch by clicking the button below.


REMEMBER – it is more likely that you are feeling SCIATIC TYPE SYMPTOMS which are nothing to do with the disc but have similar symptoms – so don’t panic if you have them. It is likely to be something far less sinister like a very tight muscle in your back or glute.



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