Back pain affects a large portion of the population. Chances are that you have either suffered from back pain or you know someone who is suffering from it. Back pain is also a thoroughly researched problem and new advancements are made all the time to treat it.
A herniated disc is one of the many conditions that can cause back pain. Today, we’ll discuss herniated discs and what you can do at home to treat this condition without having to resort to invasive approaches.
Spinal anatomy and how a disc herniation occurs
The spinal column serves two crucial purposes. One, to help support your upper body and the other to provide a safe passage (the spinal canal) for the spinal cord that sends signals from the brain to the body.
The spinal cord is rather soft and needs proper protection from external factors that might harm/damage it. That protection comes in the form of vertebrae. All vertebrae are stacked on top of one another with a spinal disc in between, also often called an intervertebral disc or intervertebral disk. This structure allows for a wide range of motion and gives the spine a natural “S” curve.
Unfortunately, as we age, so does our spine. With age comes wear and tear and that leads to complications. One such possible complication is developing a herniated disk, a ruptured disc, or suffer from disc degneration.
Spine discs play an important role as shock absorbers. These are made of an inner soft part, with a jelly-like substance and an outer hard shell. With age (or other reasons) the inner part of the disc may push out, through the shell.
This may lead to more complications if it applies pressure on nerve roots. Depending on the part of the spine where it occurs, different parts of the body may experience pain or numbness. Most often a slipped disc tends to appear in the cervical spine (neck) and lumbar spine (lower back).
When a lumbar disc becomes herniated (lumbar herniated disc) and presses on a spinal nerve in this region, including the sciatic nerve, apart from pain in the back, the sufferer may also experience hip pain or leg pain.
Can a herniated disc heal on its own?
There are chances for a herniated disc to heal without any intervention, but this process may take up to a few weeks or even months in some cases.
Herniated disc pain can be quite debilitating and difficult to manage in the long run, as daily activities can sometimes enhance the pain. Thus, extra caution should be taken to facilitate healing. One such example is to avoid long periods of sitting down, as it can worsen the compression and pressure exerted onto the spine.
Because recovery from a herniated disc may take a long time to happen naturally, it may be worth seeking ways to speed up recovery and ensure it takes place. The first step is to obtain a diagnosis.
In order to diagnose a herniated disc, it is necessary to seek medical advice from a qualified healthcare professional, who would conduct a physical examination and provide an adequate treatment plan and adequate treatments for pain relief as a result.
Sometimes a physical exam may not show conclusive results and additional tests such as a magnetic resonance imaging MRI scan may be necessary to detect where the disc herniation occurred.
Once the diagnosis and location of the herniation are confirmed, the patient may be offered any of the following non-surgical treatment options to reduce pain and manage other symptoms:
- Resting, to reduce the possibility of too much pressure being placed onto the spine, and help the healing process
- Light exercise to help maintain or increase the strength of the upper body and aid in supporting the spine
- Physical therapy to help mobilise the spine and increase range of motion
Alternatively, to relieve pain caused by a herniated or slipped disc, you may want to consider using a spinal decompression device, such as the Backrack. Because of advancements like the Backrack, surgical interventions and the more invasive methods are now only reserved for severe and unmanageable conditions.