What Are Intervertebral Discs
Lets first recap on what intervertebral discs are and what they do within the spine. Discs are the shock absorbers that sit between the bones in the spine . They are ring-shaped and are made up of two distinct parts.
The first part is the outer ring, called the annulus, which is made up of tough cartilage and proteins packed into strong layers. Within this sits the second part of the disc, called the nucleus, which is a jelly-like liquid that provides nutrients to the vertebrae and lubrication during spinal movement. This nucleus moves around within the annulus as we move, and plays a key role in allowing us to bend and lean as we go about our day. At each level of the spine, exiting the spine near where the discs sit, are the nerve roots. These nerve roots will become the nerves that supply sensation and movement to the limbs and the rest of our bodies.
You can read more about how a disc works and the symptoms a disc problem can cause by reading this post HERE.
Symptoms Of Disc Problems
The symptoms of an irritated disc can vary according to its location and severity. Back scans are often unhelpful for determining whether a persons back pain is coming from a disc issue, as discs change with aging and use. However, symptoms may include:
- back pain
- increased back pain when repetitively bending or with prolonged sitting
- increased back pain with coughing, sneezing, laughing or straining
- pain, numbness or pins-and-needles radiating into an arm or leg if a disc has caused irritation of a nearby nerve.
Key Points To Remember
- A herniated disc in the lower back is a common cause of back and leg pain. For most people, symptoms get better over time, with or without treatment.
- Many people are able to manage their symptoms with things like changes in the way they do their activities, medicines to manage pain, exercise, physiotherapy, or steroid injections. If one of these things doesn’t work, you can try something else or combine some of them.
- Surgery may relieve your pain faster than non-surgical treatments. For symptoms that have lasted at least 6 weeks and that make it hard to do your normal activities, surgery is an option when other treatments haven’t helped.
- Over the long term, surgery and non-surgical treatments work about the same to reduce pain and other symptoms.
- Back surgery has some risks, including infection, nerve damage, and the chance that the surgery won’t relieve your symptoms. And even if you get better with surgery, there is a chance that you may get new symptoms in the future.
- If you don’t choose surgery now, you can change your mind later if your symptoms haven’t gotten better or have gotten worse even with other treatments.
Also Check: How Can I Heal My Lower Back Pain
Rest And Lifestyle Change
The simplest and very effective treatment. You will need to rest at least 2 days first. After that, start with simple physical activity, dont rush, and take your time. Regular walks are the best type of activity to use at this time. Lifestyle changes are mandatory as well. You need to consume more anti-inflammatory foods. The best examples are tomatoes, nuts, spinach, kale, and also fruits such as oranges, blueberries, cherries and etc. try to find foods with anti-inflammatory properties that suit you the most. At the same time, avoid food that is known to cause inflammation.
Other changes you will want to make is to drink plenty of water. Consume 3-4 liters per day. This is essential for the condition due to the fact dehydration will have a negative effect and can worsen your symptoms.
Sleep is essential for recovery. Your bulging disc will recover when you sleep. Sadly, sciatica can make sleep almost impossible. Try to find a position in which you can fall asleep and stay asleep for at least 8-10 hours. During the day, take a 30-minute nap. These are known to provide impressive benefits.
Suggested article: The Best Sleeping Positions For Sciatica And The Worst One
What Is A Slipped Disc
When you have a ‘slipped’ disc, a disc does not actually slip. What happens is that part of the inner softer part of the disc bulges out through a weakness in the outer part of the disc. A prolapsed disc is sometimes called a herniated disc. The bulging disc may press on nearby structures such as a nerve coming from the spinal cord. Some inflammation also develops around the prolapsed part of the disc. Inflammation may irritate a nerve and also causes swelling, which may put pressure on a nerve.
Any disc in the spine can prolapse. However, most prolapsed discs occur in the lower back . The size of the prolapse can vary. As a rule, the larger the prolapse, the more severe the symptoms are likely to be.
The Universal Guide To Herniated Discs: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know Straight From The Experts
You might think of “the spine” as one solid-but-flexible piece but it actually consists of small, moving parts that all have to work in concert for proper mobility. Sometimes, though, that harmony has a few players who are way out of tunenamely your discs, the cushion-like pads between your vertebrae. When they become damaged and encroach on nerve roots branching off the spinal cord, thats when they can strike the wrong note maybe even a painful one.
Also known as slipped discs or ruptured discs, this is a relatively common condition that can occur anywhere along the spine, but is most likely to affect the lower back or neck.
Spinal discs are cushion-like pads located between the vertebrae. Photo Source: 123RF.com.
You might not feel much from a herniated disc in fact, some people don’t even feel it and never know it’s happening until they get imaging done for another reason, like trauma to the back but for some people, that slipping presses on adjacent nerves. That can definitely seem like a violin screech in an otherwise harmonious concert.
“It’s usually not herniation itself that’s problematic, or that sends someone in to see a doctor,” says Neel Anand, MD, professor of orthopedic surgery and director of spine trauma at Cedars-Sinai Spine Center in Los Angeles.
Causes Of Bulging Discs
While they can develop at any age, bulging disks are most common in people over the age of 30, and for reasons not totally understood theyre twice as common in men as in women.
Discs act like soft cushions that buffer the space between vertebrae, which are the small bones in the spinal column. Normally, discs serve as our natural absorbers of shock, allowing us to move around and remain flexible. In healthy adults, discs have a soft, gel-like center made up of flexible cartilage, surrounded by a tougher layer that keeps them held in place.
As someone becomes older, experiences more inflammation or becomes injured, the outer layer of the discs becomes more susceptible to being stretched, pulled or bulged out of the normal place they occupy. Once bulging, a disc becomes wider, stretched and also might become slightly squashed at the same time. Some experts say a bulging disc looks almost like a hamburger thats too big for its bun.
Growing pressure around a disc and poor posture are two common reasons why discs can start to bulge. When a normal disc experiences accumulating pressure, it starts to expand abnormally outward where it can come into contact with sensitive neural tissues. Eventually the bulging disc protrudes into the spinal canal, which is what triggers the sharp pain or tingling sensation thats associated with disc problems.
Bulging Disc Takeaways
Read Next: 6 Natural Ways to Relieve Sciatic Nerve Pain
Recommended Reading: Why Do I Feel Pain In My Lower Back
Tips For Relieving Pain From Herniated Discs
Do you experience achy or sharp radiating pain to your shoulder, arm, buttock or leg? This may be an indicator of a bulging or herniated disc in the neck or back. Between each of the vertebrae that make up your spine are small cushions called discs.
Herniated discs are more common in the 30-50 age bracket. A herniated disc is when the material inside the disc pushes outwards, irritating the nerve exiting at that level. This can be on either side of the spine and depending on the nerve affected in the neck or back, can cause radiating pain, numbness and loss of sensation.
Most people are able to relieve their pain from a herniated disc using medications and physical therapy, with improvements seen in about four to six weeks. However, in cases where the pain is very severe, surgery may be used as a last resort treatment.
Natural Herniated Disc Treatment Options
Back pain is something a very large number of people have to deal with at one point or another. In fact, there are some 31 million people in the U.S. alone who suffer from lower back pain at any one time, according to the American Chiropractic Association. Unsurprisingly, a herniated disc is one of the leading causes of back pain, and it can be so debilitating that it makes everyday activities seem like moving mountains. Thankfully, herniated disc treatment doesnt have to be chore.
If you have a herniated disc, a bulging disc, a desiccated disc, or any sort of low back injury or low back pain, these tips can absolutely help you deal with the sciatic nerve pain that follows. I can tell you from experience. Ive had a herniated disc from lifting weights and doing other things in the past. These things help me personally, and Ive seen them help thousands of patients Ive taken care of over the years as well.
Here, I lay out five steps to heal a herniated disc, including the diet, the supplements and natural herniated disc treatment options you need to follow. Lets start with the diet you need eat and go one from there with the herniated disc treatment steps that will give you fast back pain relief at the same time.
Also Check: What Can Help My Lower Back Pain
What Are The Causes
Discs can bulge or herniate because of injury and improper lifting or can occur spontaneously. Aging plays an important role. As you get older, your discs dry out and become harder. The tough fibrous outer wall of the disc may weaken. The gel-like nucleus may bulge or rupture through a tear in the disc wall, causing pain when it touches a nerve. Genetics, smoking, and a number of occupational and recreational activities may lead to early disc degeneration.
Secret #: Practice Yoga
Perhaps one of the best-kept secrets about healing a herniated disc and preventing a reoccurrence is to practice yoga.
While every pose is not going to be suitable for you while you are healing, many of the poses can help shift the weight on the spine, allowing the disc to return to its correct position.
Yoga is a great way to practice better posture, reduce stress and muscle tension, improve breathing and circulation, while improving core muscles that support the spine.
Dont attempt yoga poses if you have never done them before. You might injure yourself more. See a yoga teacher and be sure to tell them about your bulging or herniated disc so they can offer you the proper poses for healing and strengthening.
Some of the best yoga poses for those with disc problems are:
- Ardah Uttanasana
- Childs Pose
Recommended Reading: What Helps Relieve Lower Back Pain
When & How To Seek Medical Care
Fortunately, the majority of herniated discs do not require surgery. With time, the symptoms of sciatica/radiculopathy improve in approximately 9 out of 10 people. The time to improve varies, ranging from a few days to a few weeks.
- Limit activities for 2 to 3 days. Walking as tolerated is encouraged, along with an anti-inflammatory, such as ibuprofen, if not contraindicated for the patient. Bedrest is not recommended.
- Primary care evaluation during this time may lead to considering other non-surgical treatments noted below, such as physical therapy.
- Radiographic imaging, such as an MRI, is not recommended by the American College of Radiology, unless symptoms have been present for six weeks.
- Referral to a spine specialist, such as a neurosurgeon, is also recommended if symptoms persist for greater than four weeks. A specialist will often want advanced imaging, such as the MRI, completed prior to the appointment.
- Urgent evaluation and imaging is recommended if there are symptoms of significant leg/arm weakness, loss of feeling in the genital/rectal region, no control of urine or stool, a history of metastatic cancer, significant recent infection or fever AND radiculopathy or a fall/injury that caused the pain. Imaging should also be considered earlier for findings of progressive neurologic deficit on exam.
Is Your Work Triggering Back Pain
A job that entails drawing, lifting, or turning with the low back can create injury and also low back pain. Even prolonged sitting in an awkward setting can cause low back pain. Basing on your feet for hrs at a time? That can trigger lower back pain as well. The best way to avoid back pain is to recognize if you go to risk.
Read Also: Can Melanoma Cause Back Pain
Can A Tumour In The Spine Cause Bulging Discs
In rarer cases a tumour in the spine can also push against a nerve root and mimic the same symptoms of pain and weakness as a bulging disc. For this reason it is extremely important to get an accurate diagnosis from a health professional so that the cause of your problem is diagnosed correctly, since bulging disc treatment may reduce your symptoms.
How To Decompress Your Spine To Heal A Bulging Disc
A study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Rehab Medicine looked at different body positions and how they impacted the pressure within the 3rd lumbar disc.
The researcher, Dr. Nachemson found:
When you are sitting, you experience 50% more pressure on your back then when you are standing in good posture.
Even when you lie down, you still have 25% of your standing body pressure on your spine as a result of the muscles and ligaments supporting your back.
Nachemson also found that spine decompression at an angle where 60% of your body weight is stretching your spine allows the pressure on your discs to drop to near zero.
Here are the 2 best options to do spinal decompression at home:
The first option is by using a high-quality inversion table.
Innova ITX 9600 best value inversion table in 2020
An inversion table brings a dramatic pain relief in as little as 10 seconds .
But it has long-term benefits too:
Regular inversion allows your back muscles to relax, your spine to elongate, and create space for your discs.
This space is vital to the discs ability to naturally realign, rehydrate, and return to health providing flexibility, shock absorption, and improved posture.
Heres EXACTLY how to use inversion therapy for back pain
Home Traction Device the Nubax Trio
The Nubax Trio is the best alternative for inversion tables.
The Nubax Trio is easier to get in and out of and it allows you to apply as little or as much traction as is needed.
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How Much Time Does Lower Back Pain Usually Last
Lower back pain can be categorized as severe, subacute or persistent. Severe episodes of lower back pain generally last from a couple of days to 4 weeks and subacute lower back pain lasts between 4 to 12 weeks. Nonetheless, according to the National Institutes of Health, about 20 percent of people with acute back pain take place to develop persistent back pain defined as discomfort that lasts 12 weeks or longer. Also in these cases, there are many different treatment options to help eliminate lower back pain signs.
When your back is really eliminating you, you might fret something is seriously wrong. The exact same opts for back pain that appears incessant. Fortunately is that while back pain is a significant trouble, it is rarely an urgent clinical problem. In fact, a lot of the moment you do not have to treat it. Back pain typically resolves on its own unless you have a major underlying issue. Lower Back Pain Bulging Disc Symptoms
Recommended Reading: How To Self Treat Lower Back Pain
When Steroids And Prolotherapy Are Needed
When disc material prolapses or herniates through the annulus, a severe inflammatory reaction occurs, which affects the lumbar nerves and causes excruciating pain. This is one time when steroids are needed to resolve the pain. With appropriate treatment using steroids injections onto the nerve and Prolotherapy treatment to the lower back, it is possible to strengthen the ligaments through which the disc herniated. Anyone this debilitated by pain would likely need to come into the office in a wheelchair or be in obvious discomfort but after treatment often would be able to leave walking out much happier.
If you have been diagnosed with a bulging disc, slipped disc, herniated disc, Prolotherapy is safe, effective, and cost-friendly. It is a low-risk procedure that treats a herniated disc symptoms.Questions about our treatments?
If you have questions about Spinal fusion surgery complications and how we may be able to help you, please contact us and get help and information from our Caring Medical staff.
Brian Hutcheson, DC | Ross Hauser, MD | Danielle Steilen-Matias, PA-C