How do herniated discs occur and what are the best treatment options?

“Ouch….I’ve slipped a disc!” 

Low back pain affects over 80% of the population at some point in their lives and it’s the second most popular reason for visiting the GP after the common cold. It comes in many guises but a herniated or ‘slipped’ disc is one of the easiest things to succumb to and is one of the most difficult types of back pain to relieve. 

This article examines the ways in which herniated discs can occur and explains the treatment options available to help patients get back to their usual daily activities.

Contrary to popular belief, slipped discs are not just common to people who do manual work involving heavy lifting: many office-based workers succumb to disc problems as a result of sitting in one position for too long, putting pressure on the disc walls so that they weaken over time.

The spine is made up of 24 individual bones called vertebrae which are stacked on top of each Herniated Disc MRI scan - Pre IDD Therapy. Discs are the protective circular pads of connective tissue in between – the ‘padding’ which acts as shock absorbers, protecting the spine when we run or jump.

We cause small weaknesses in our spine all day long with prolonged sitting or standing in certain positions, for example at workstations or hunched over the ironing board.

The intervertebral discs are unlike other parts of the body in the sense that they have a limited nerve supply.

Very often we are not aware of the discs being under strain until the accumulation of months or years of stress has reached a point where small tears form in the outer disc wall. These tears can result in several months of nagging discomfort.

As a defence-mechanism against further damage, the body will often react to this situation with muscle spasm or at the very least, ‘muscle guarding’ which is when the long muscles of the spine tighten up. This causes compression of the discs and a lack of mobility in the spine. 

If this situation prevails, the tears can very often become worse and allow the inner jelly like part of the disc – the nucleus – to herniate outwards. This is referred to as a herniated, bulging or ‘slipped’ disc.

Disc problems can also cause pain in other areas of the body, the most common of which is sciatica, a grinding pain which travels down the length of the leg.  Sciatica can be caused by the bulging part of the disc squashes the nerve root next to the disc or when chemicals from a prolapsed disc irritate the nerve endings.  

Neck pain, headaches or numbness in the foot can also be a sign of a damaged disc. So, what are your options for treatment?

Your first port of call should always be a good osteopath, physiotherapist or chiropractor who will have experience in treating disc-related problems. With this type of manual therapy in most cases you should see a marked improvement in your condition in 6-8 weeks.

At the same time, if you are in so much pain that you can’t sleep then your GP can prescribe you painkillers and/or anti-inflammatory medicines which can be taken alongside physical treatment.

If you see no real sign of improvement after eight weeks of manual therapy, it would be advisable to get an MRI scan of your spine to confirm the possible causes of your pain and the location (level) of the spine affected.

If a disc problem is identified, a programme of treatment including IDD Therapy non-surgical spinal decompression may be recommended.

IDD Therapy is a computer-controlled mechanical treatment used by clinicians to gently and safely relieve pressure on specific discs, alleviate muscle spasm and increase mobility in the spine.
decompression[1]As part of the IDD Therapy programme, patients undergo a course of core-strengthening exercise to help them maintain their healthy spine.

In a small number of cases, patients with severe disc damage/degeneration may require invasive treatments including injections and/or surgery. Also, in rare circumstances, the patient may require immediate surgery, for example, when the bowel and bladder function is affected.

There are different types of surgery for a herniated disc, the most common is the microdiscectomy where fragments of the disc may be cut away.

Another common type of spinal surgery is the lumbar fusion where the vertebrae surrounding a disc are fused together.

Thus, there are now several treatment options available to patients with herniated discs and indeed, a wider array of effective non-surgical options allowing more patients to avoid invasive procedures.

For information about treatment options at Spine Plus or any other IDD Therapy providers, please use the form below.

Robert Shanks BSc (Hons) Ost
Clinical Director
Spine Plus
Spine Plus is a group of multidisciplinary clinics in London and Essex.

[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]

Spine Plus Clinics – At the Forefront of Herniated Disc Treatment with IDD Therapy Spinal Decompression

Spine Plus Clinics in Essex and London are well established providers of IDD Therapy treatment for unresolved herniated discs, sciatica and chronic low back and neck pain.

In this video co-clinic director Robert Shanks discusses the role of IDD Therapy treatment, how it works and what it can do for patients needing more for their pain, without resorting to invasive procedures.

Also includes patients discussing their experiences of treatment, some of whom have avoided the need for surgery.


For more details about IDD Therapy at Spine Plus clinics, please visit their website

If you are a clinician and would like more information about IDD Therapy please use the form below or visit

[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]

Clinic marketing – Pricing strategies for the benefit of your clinic

The majority of clinics have a uniform pricing structure.  In this article I want to highlight the benefits of a dual layer pricing structure for the clinic owner, clinic associates and the clinic as a whole.

There is so much competition that it is more important than ever to stand out from the crowd.  There are a number of ways to doing this but having expert status or having specialist treatment programmes are two key ways to stand out from the masses.


Pricing is an incredibly powerful marketing tool to give signals to your audience:

High price = higher quality/value
Lower price = lower quality/value

There are some consumers who only want the best and then there are consumers who are happy for standard service e.g Tesco Finest vs mid range branded item 

What clinics can learn from hair salons

Have you ever been to a hair salon where there are different prices for different levels of stylist?

I have never had a hair cut at Toni and Guy, but to my mind at least they are the brand which says quality haircut.  As for the stylists, well, they work at Toni and Guy so you expect them to all be very good.

The artistic directors are priced higher than the senior stylists and the pricing differences suggest that the artistic director will give the best haircut available.

Some people will want to pay more the artistic director whilst others will be satisfied with a senior stylist.

So for clinics…

It is expected that the clinic director should be the leader of the clinic.  They are (supposed to be) the best clinician and their leadership status sets the course of the clinic brand.

Some patients want to see the leader, the best so it makes sense to affirm the clinic director’s status as the best by having a visible higher price point.

The clinic director will see existing patients and attract new ones – and these patients are happy to pay a higher price.  If a patient wants to see the director but the director is fully booked, the receptionist can book them in with an associate who is equally capable of treating the patient.

Additionally, the higher price for the clinic director has the effect of making the associate price look good value.  No change in price, but new perceived value and this is attractive to would-be patients who are mildly price-conscious.

When a prospective patients looks at your website, they will see by the price points that the clinic is good because it is run by an expert (this person must be an expert – the higher price tells them that).  This reflects well for the associates as they are members of the expert team.

The patient then has a choice as to who they want to see.  I only want the best person, or I am happy for the associate to see me because I am assured that the associate will give me the service I need.  

Whether it is £5, £10 or £20, any price differentiation has a subtle but powerful effect on the perceived expert status of the clinic in the eyes of the would-be patient.

That is good for everyone. 

Author: Stephen Small

Mal au Dos? Traitement non-invasive pour les hernies discales et la sciatique – IDD Therapy

IDD Therapy est un traitement non-invasive pour les hernies discales et la sciatique. Ce vidéo présente le traitement de décompression vertébrale utilisant la SDS SPINA.


Le mal au dos est un problème important et IDD Therapy offre aux cliniciens un outil pour faire plus pour les gens souffrants.

Avec plus de 800 cliniques la thérapie IDD est en plein croissance en Europe. IDD Therapy est un traitement qui permet aux cliniciens de cibler et faire une distraction et mobilisation de vertèbres précis pour faire la décompression d’une disque, e.x L5S1 et L4 L5 sont les plus communs avec des problèmes.

La distraction ouvre l’espace intervertébrale par 5mm-7mm et puis une oscillation contrôlée aide la mobilité.

L’objectif est d’enlever la pression sur une disque, travailler les tissues, réaligner des structures et enlever la pression sur de nerfs.

Le traitement sur le SDS SPINA dure 25 minutes, afin de donner assez de temps pour un effet thérapeutique. Le traitement est pour les gens qui n’ont pas répondu aux thérapies manuelles et qui ne sont pas candidats pour les traitements invasifs.

Pour toute information supplémentaire sur IDD Therapy et le SDS SPINA, contacter le distributeur international Steadfast Clinics utilisant la fiche ci-dessous ou visiter — www.

Author: Stephen Small
Director Steadfast Clinics Ltd

[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]

The ‘Small’ rule of mobile phone etiquette when a call gets disconnected – Blackberry, iphone, Nokia, Samsung, LG

I want to outline a very simple idea which I invite you to share with everyone you know because it surely has affected you, it affects practically everyone on the planet and it will take away some of the world’s frustration, or mine at least!  It will only work if everyone knows it, so spread the word.

Have you ever been on your mobile phone and got disconnected?

Of course you have.

What happens?  You phone the other person back, only to reach their voicemail because your friend is busily phoning you back.

When you finish leaving your message, you then see you have a message and guess what…. it’s your friend leaving you an identical message “Hi Steve, we got disconnected, can you call me back”. Grrrr!

If you are really unlucky, you then phone your friend back again, and again you get voicemail because he is phoning you back! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!  I think some people get trapped in this circle of pain for hours …!

So my revolutionary idea to save millions of wasted calls, electricity and frustration energy is a simple piece of mobile phone etiquette when a phone gets disconnected:

He who made the call, phones back.

I repeat

She who made the call, phones back.

I acknowledge that this is a random blog post not connected to pain relief but I have to put the idea somewhere.

Before posting, I asked my wife for her opinion, she said great but asked whether I could also come up with a solution as to how to get our daughters to hang their things up …. no idea on that one!

By Stephen Small
Director Steadfast Clinics