What Is A “Slipped Disc”?

What Is A “Slipped Disc”?

Often the result of wear on the vertebrae, a slipped disc can be painful and limiting. The disc is the fluid-filled sac that cushions the bones in the spine. When this little sac ruptures or slips out-of-place, it bumps into nearby nerves. This unaccustomed contact causes pain, discomfort or numbness. A common ailment with increasing age, a slipped disk presents symptoms of varied intensity. The degree of pain or inconvenience for the sufferer determines the course of slipped disk treatment.

At-Home Remedies – After the diagnosis, the doctor will likely suggest some low-impact treatments. These include over the-counter drugs as well as simple behavioral advice. Most people suffering from a slipped disk respond to this level of treatment.

Non-Prescription Pain Relievers – Naproxen, acetaminophen and ibuprofen each reduce inflammation and pain. Though these drugs are available over-the-counter, they are potent, and taking more than the recommended dose can harm health. A doctor can help with advice about the right kind of non-prescription pain reliever to take.

Cold and Heat – Applying a cold pack to the painful part of the back contracts inflamed muscle and relieves pain. This treatment helps a great deal when the disk has recently ruptured and swelling is at its greatest. A heating pad or warm pack helps with residual pain.

Continued Physical Activity – Though pain or weakness seem like good reasons to rest the back, excessive bed-rest worsens the symptoms of a slipped disc. Moving around too little allows muscles to grow weaker and prevents the body from healing. Periods of rest interspersed with periods of normal activity throughout the day keep the back muscles in shape.

Prescription Remedies –  If over-the-counter drugs fail to ease slipped disc pain, the doctor will turn to prescription medications.  These can include narcotics, such as hydrocodone or codeine. While they can do away with pain, narcotics are very addictive and induce a mental fogginess that can itself be dangerous.  More narrowly-focused medicines designed to target damaged nerves that create chronic pain may be a better choice, as they have fewer undesirable side effects. Gabapentin and Cymbalta are two drugs that act in different ways to minimize nerve pain. These drugs are less addictive than narcotics.

Muscle Relaxants – If the muscles around the slipped disc experience painful spasms, a muscle relaxant such as Valium may be useful. The drawback to drugs like these is that they do not limit their power to the affected nerve. Instead, they have a generally relaxing effect and will interfere with daily activities.

Steroids – If inflammation is severe, a doctor may also prescribe a steroid. Steroids, such as cortisone, reduce swelling quickly. A cortisone shot directly in the affected area will have an immediate effect on the displaced disc.

Physical Therapy – Physical therapists show slipped disc sufferers ways to move that do not cause pain. Occupational therapists teach skills that allow patients to return to a productive life.

Nutrition – In order to restore the disc we also are going to need to include different substances in our diet. There are a lot of supplements on the market, of course. If you wish to try them, that’s fine. I personally don’t like them. I have tried one with glucosamine and chondroitin, but I didn’t feel any different. So, if you have the opportunity to take these with the food or from more natural sources, it will be great. You can find these substances in sea food and animal cartilages and by digesting them we ensure the building blocks for the connecting tissue for our joints and spine. Also we will need more Omega 3 fatty acids, which can be supplied from cold pressed oils, fatty fish, flax seeds, chia and many more. Vitamins from B group are very beneficial for people with herniated discs and all kinds of issues with the peripheral nervous system. Vitmans B1, B6 and B12 nourish the nerves and help them recover from the disk accident. Usually doctors prescribe them as a part of the treatment, but it is worth mentioning anyway.

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