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Can a physio have a slipped disc?

Steven-mri1Can physiotherapists suffer with low back pain and sciatica?

Do you know what a bulging disc looks like?  Do you want to see an MRI of Steve’s low back?

Did you know that Steve injured his back, lifting something heavy, 3 months ago?

Below is one of the images from Steve’s MRI of his low back which was taken 1 month ago.

Below is Steve’s story of how he injured his back and how he got back to recovery.

When I was 19 I had back pain and sciatica caused by the L5/S1 disc bulging.  I got it all sorted with great physiotherapy treatment and lifestyle changes. That is what largely ignited my passion for physiotherapy and helping other people get better, quicker.

Fast forward 21 years and I’m 40, training for my 4th Marathon, feeling fit and healthy and in great shape.  I go to pick up something heavy- I know I shouldn’t, but I do it anyway- and BANG!  Immediately I know I’ve hurt my back.  It’s the weekend so I take it very easy, lots of pain killers and anti-inflammatories.  I see my colleague Laura Harman for 1hour of physio on Sunday. She examines me thoroughly and can tell it’s the disc that’s causing trouble.  The physio treatment helps ease the pain intensity and gets me a bit more mobile.

I take 2 days off work, rest and dose up on meds.  I soldier on at work, sometimes struggling through the day.  Gradually things ease and over about 5 weeks and hours of physio treatment received,  I am feeling much better and decide its time to get back to my London Marathon training (which is now 7 weeks away).

I must add a disclaimer here: my physios ( by this stage I’ve had treatment with almost all my physio staff) are against me returning to running now (why can’t I just listen to them?).  But against better judgment and professional advice I do it anyway.

I do 2 easy runs of 3 miles and feel good, possibly even better from the running.  3 days later I test myself out with an 8mile run, I feel great.  I am back!  London Marathon here I come.

Sadly I wake up the next morning MUCH worse!  Now my right sided sciatica is more intense and my right foot feels numb.

More physio and more exercises (yes I do do the exercises my physios give me).  I’m very busy at work from 8am-6pm looking after other peoples injuries, and I start to notice that as the day goes on I am getting more and more painful and struggling to work.  Now this is getting serious.  This is no more about “can I or can’t I run the marathon?”, this is about can I work?  Can I get through a day without painkillers?

I decide to take some real time off work, to rest properly and give my body the recovery it needs.  I consider having a cortisone injection around the disc and nerve root to help reduce inflammation around the nerve and help improve my recovery, particularly as I am going to take time off work to rest.

I book to see Mr Mo Akmal, Spine Surgeon, who I have worked with for many years and respect tremendously.  The MRI confirms that the L5/S1 disc is bulging quite badly and compressing the right nerve root.  He and I decide to go ahead with a set of steroid injections, targeting the nerve root and bulging disc area.  Immediately after the injections I can tell Mr Akmal has hit the right spot.  It takes about 10days for the steroids to kick in properly and I notice an additi0nal step of improvement.

The physiotherapy treatment from my colleagues, the 1 month off work to rest and the injections all have helped tremendously.  Now 3 months after the inital injury I am feeling much much better and returning to an 80% work load.

If you would like to chat to me about your issues with your back please email me


If you have been having trouble with back pain, or a slipped disc, and need expert advice and treatment- BOOST PHYSIO in Hendon and East Finchley can help you get better, quicker.  If you are not progressing rapidly enough we can arrange for you to see top specialists, have MRI scans and injections if needed, very qucikly.

See our website here.

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BOOST PHYSIO works with major insurance companies like: BUPA, AVIVA, WPA, CIGNA and Simplyhealth. We usually deal directly with your insurance company.