Slip Disc is a very common spine injury and the pain is too excruciating to even explain it in words. Athletes face it most often but sometimes a wrong move on your part like forward bending to pick up a very heavy object can cause slip disc. Well this doesn’t mean that you will be suffering from pain always; there are several ways to cure it. All you have to do is listen to your orthopedic and be extra cautious. This article will guide you through the precautionary steps you should take if you are suffering from slip disc.
It is very important that you know the meaning of slip disc before you even get down tackling it. Slip disc is nothing but, “protrusion of a part of an inter-vertebral disc through the fiber cartilage, occurring usually in the lower lumbar region and often causing back pain and sciatica.”It generally takes four to six weeks to recover from slip disc. Adequate rest, mild exercise, physiotherapy and medicines help to cure herniated disc. However, if these non-surgical methods fail to arrest slip disc then doctor might suggest surgery. The treatment of slip disc actually depends entirely on the seriousness of a patient’s condition. There is no fixed formula for its cure.
The two main goals behind the treatment of slip or herniated disc are-
- Provide pain relief. Especially, leg pain that tends to become severe.
- Help the patient to bounce to an active and normal lifestyle.
Usually doctors prescribe medicines and suggest non-surgical methods first to a patient suffering from slip disc. However, if these non-surgical methods fail to work (only in some cases this happens) then the doctor might ask you to undergo a surgery. If a person develops neurological problems or if there is a bladder or bowel dysfunction (these happen rarely) then a surgical evaluation is called for. In the case of slip or herniated disc surgery is just another option which is medically defined as ‘elective procedure’. Pain management often lies in the hands of those suffering from it.
Here are some common non-surgical methods to deal with the pain caused by slip disc-
Physiotherapy: Your orthopedic might refer you to a physiotherapist to cure slip disc pain. The physiotherapists will use special machines and massage to cure the pain. They usually draw up a chart depending on the patient’s condition and special needs. They also advise some exercises to relieve back pain. Rest and an active lifestyle are the two best cures of slip disc pain.
[ Read: How To Fix A Pinched Nerve ]
Osteopathy: If you are suffering from excruciating pain due to herniated disc then you can also visit a chiropractor for an osteopathy treatment. Osteopathy is a non-invasive medical treatment that helps to strengthen musculoskeletal framework and reduce the pain emanating from joint, muscles and spine.
Medicines: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help to reduce inflammation caused by disc herniation. The most common types of NSAIDs are-
- Ibuprofen (it is available under the brand names Advil, Motrin and Nuprin)
- Naproxen (Aleve and Naprosyn)
- COX-2 inhibitors (e.g. Celebrex)
Both non-prescription (over the counter) NSAIDs and prescription brands of NSAIDs are available.However, NSAIDs are not suitable for those who have high blood pressure, asthma, kidney and heart failure.
Read more about NSAIDs.
Alternatively if you are using analgesics like paracetamol which is easily available in all drugstores, keep in mind that having these painkillers will not reduce the pain quickly. Always read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully or consult your doctor.
Codeine is a strong painkiller and is often taken along with paracetamol. This medicine is prescribed when NSAIDs and other painkillers can’t reduce the pain. Having codeine can cause constipation.
If the pain is severe and it has radiated to your legs making it tough for you to walk properly, then doctor might give you a corticosteroid injection. Corticosteroids are nothing but anti-inflammatory medicines that contain hormones and are prescribed for different health conditions. You will be injected in the lower spine to reduce both pain and inflammation. Corticosteroids are also available in the form of tablets, inhalers, lotions and creams.
Muscle relaxants like Diazepam can do wonders to provide relief from the pain and help you to bounce back to a normal active life.
You must remember that self-medication is a strict no. An active lifestyle is a must once your pain reduces completely. Walking and therapeutic exercises fall in this category. It is by far the best method of recovery.
Surgery in the case of herniated disc is only carried out if there is a serious nerve compression, the pain is not decreasing, and the patient is having difficulty moving around and standing and also if there are any symptoms like progressive muscle weakness and bladder dysfunction. The goal of the surgery is to cut of the disc that is bulging out. This process is called discectomy and it can be done in several ways.
Open Discectomy: This surgical procedure involves removal of the herniated disc and it is carried out under anesthetic. A small cut is made and the disc is removed in this case.
Prosthetic Intervertebral Disc Replacement: Prosthetic Intervertebral disc replacement means replacing the slipped disc and attaching an artificial disc in its place. A survey shows that 87% cases of this surgery were successful and the lives of patients qualitatively improved.
Endoscopic Laser Surgery: An incision is made on the spine and an endoscope is introduced to view the disc. The anesthesia is given according to the location of slip disc in the spine. Then the part of the disc will be removed with laser and the compressed nerve is released.
A study reveals that 67% of the patients who underwent this surgery could move around easily. Only 2-4% needed another surgery and around 30% needed less pain killers.
Lumbar Surgery: In severe cases doctors advise lumbar surgery so that the pain caused by the compressed nerve can be released. Before you go under the knife make sure to ask the surgeon the success and complication cases for the type of surgery that will be conducted on you. Be mentally prepared and conduct your own research. Generally, it takes two to six ways to bounce back to a normal life. Sometimes, surgeries don’t work for people and cause complications like infection, nerve injury or paralysis, hemorrhage and temporary dysaesthesia (impaired sense). One should learn about the pros and cons about each surgery and then go for it. An informed decision is a must here.
If you start an exercise program after you recover from surgery then you will be less dependent on those pain killers that make you feel tired and irritated. Pain killers have side effects too. So it is best to take rest, go for short walks and exercise. Keep your medicines, lumbar spine belt and cold and hot packs handy. Avoid traveling long distances and on uneven surfaces as it may trigger the pain. It is important to know what is triggering the pain and take a preventive measure against it. Just don’t stress yourself and maintain a good posture when you are sitting and standing. Ergonomics go a long way in dealing with lower back pain. Invest in a good chair that makes your spine relax and maintains the right ‘S-Curve’ of the spine.
It will be boring to slow down a bit, but then it is always better than taking bitter pills. So here is wishing you a pain free happy life!
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