What Is Herniated Disc?
The spinal cord is a tall and thin structure, it begins from the medulla oblongata and ends in the lumbar area of vertebrae, vertebrae protect the spine with its 3 structures:
- Cervical spine – It is the topmost vertebral part and has 7 vertebrae also known as the neck area.
- Thoracic – This is the middle and largest part and contains 12 vertebrae.
- Lumbar – Last part, 5 vertebrae nestles in this.
The inner portion of the disc is soft and triggered one because it is formed with a gel-like substance and the possibility of rupture and tear is in this area and it bulge/slip/push out through the outer hard portion (covers the inner soft area) start causing lower back pain by activating pain in the nerves. Around 55-85% of people go through lower back pain, in at least one aspect of life. In some people, herniated doesn’t cause any pain so non-surgically it can be treated but if the pain is severe then the surgical method should be picked. People with the age of 50 or above experience slipped discs because their discs become less or non-flexible and brittle.
What Causes Herniated/Slipped Disc?
- Old age
- People lifting heavy objects wrongly like dumbbells, bricks, stones, etc.
- When the outer ring of the disc lacks strength it tears and starts tearing the inner one.
- Nerve constriction
- Physical work demanding jobs like a sports coach, gym trainers, construction labors, etc
- Obesity (overweight)
- Spinal joint fluctuation
- Torn muscle
All these things majorly cause a herniated disc in males and females.
What Are The Symptoms Of Herniated Disc?
A slipped disc is not necessarily target the lower back, it can occur in the neck and in any area of the spinal column. Symptoms vary and depend on the stage of degeneration, some are listed below:
- Leg pains if the herniated disc is in the lower back
- Arms pain if a herniated disc is in the neck
- Pain while turning back
- Standing for a longer period can cause numbness and tingling
- Sudden muscle soreness and weakness
- Pain in the back gets worse at night
- Pain due to sitting at one place for too long
- Pain while bending
Herniated Disc Treatment
A number of surgical and non-surgical treatments are available for people suffering from spinal pain. Fortunately, more than 50% of herniated disc problems are cleared with the conservative method and no surgery is required. Also, it takes around 2 months only to get back to normalcy.
- One should limit the object lifting.
- Take over the counter pain killers like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen. Tylenol equally works during this condition. One should have these medicines under a doctor’s guidance and to avoid hyperacidity have it with warm milk.
- Muscle relaxants like cyclobenzaprine, metaxalone, methocarbamol, and tizanidine are well-known for reducing pain.
- For uncontrollable nerve pain pregabalin, duloxetine, amitriptyline, and gabapentin are appropriate.
- One should not take all these medicines with alcohol.
- Do not mix these drugs with your ongoing disease drugs give at least a 2-3 hours gap.
- Discuss when to take, daily dosage, and risk factors medicines with a doctor no matter what your age is.
- For any pain be it neck, back, arm or leg pain caused due to a herniated disc, injections like epidural steroid injection may help you to get rid of the pain. One shot of injection lasts for 45-60 days minimum. You can start feeling good changes in 1-2 days. when the doctor injects the syringe, it might give you a tingling or burning sensation for a while.
- For nerve pain, a selective nerve root block can be your final call.
- Surgery is the last option if the pain is out of hand and pressurizes your back, arms, legs, and neck. Also when it becomes intolerable after 3-4 months then the doctor’s words will put microdiscectomy choice first. Microdiscectomy is a surgical procedure, which is also known as microdecompression. A doctor removes jot/tittle or big pieces of the herniated disc to stop the spinal pain. A 3-4cm cut will be made on the slipped disc, the doctor prefers a microscope to detect the faults easily after removing the hurting part, the cut will be closed with stitches.
- Laminectomy procedure is another surgical procedure, broad names are lumbar and cervical laminectomy. It gives relaxation from narrowed the spinal cord. Lamina (thin plate makes vertebral bridge on spine) will be taken out during the surgery if the need arises then bone spurs will be pulled off.
- First of antiseptic will be applied on your skin, then a cut will be made on your back or neck, lamina and bone spurs will be taken out and then the area will be stitched.
- Foraminotomy or spinal fusion are also popular procedures, the surgeon might connect both these with laminectomy, for better results.
EXERCISES FOR HERNIATED DISC
Exercise also plays a prominent role in reducing the slipped disc and saves a person from a surgical procedure.
BACK PAIN EXERCISES:
- Grip on the overhead metal bar or rings and hang with feet in the air. Do it for 2-3 mins daily. It strengths the posture and reduces the herniated disc pain.
- Lie on the back and take you both the knees forward or switch both knees one after the other simultaneously move the head forward repeat the same thing 4-5 times.
- Cat cow exercise – This exercise needs your knees under your hips and wrist under your shoulders. Face towards the roof. Do 2 sets of 10.
- Child pose – Spread your knees as wide as you can, bring the stomach towards the thighs and root your head towards the floor. DO 3 sets of 5 or according to your capability.
- Walk for 15 minutes.
Which Exercises One Should Avoid For Herniated Disc?
- Dumbbell pushups
- Hex bar deadlift
- Barbell squat
- Leg lifts
EXERCISES FOR NECK PAIN
- Sit straight, slowly rotate your head in a clockwise direction in 1 set, and in the next set rotate the head in a counter-clockwise direction. Don’t push yourself start with one set and then gradually increase the speed, make sure that you are twisting the neck while performing this exercise otherwise pain will increase.
- Lateral bend – Tilt your head towards the shoulder keep it for 30 seconds, and repeat 2-4 times.
- Chin tuck
- SCM muscle stretch
- Levator scapula muscle stretch
Exercises To Avoid For Neck Pain
- Military press – It gives pressure to the head as entire or almost 80% of the weight is handed over to the neck and head.
- Stop running and jumping rope.
- Stomach crunches
Recovery Period Of Herniated Disc
Maximum pain reduces or vanishes within 20-30 days if you are regular with exercise and taking medicines then it won’t even take 15 days but if it does go for a check-up at the doctor’s office. Even after surgery recovery takes 15-30 days to recover.
Diagnosis For Herniated Disc
- The doctor performs physical tests.
- Leg lift test is also very precise and it is also known as SLR – Straight leg raise test.
- Neurological tests will be done to check sensory, motor, and reflexes.
- X rays – Detects tumors, bone injury, and infection.
- CT Scan
- Myelogram – It deeply examines the spinal canal with the help of dye ( mostly used before the X-ray).
- Electromyography test
Complications Associated With Herniated Disc
If not treated early then the herniated disc may enter the room of complications.
- Bowel and bladder’s dysfunction
- Tear neck causes partial or complete paralysis
- Saddle anesthesia
- Nerve root injury
- Radicular pain
Ways To Prevent Herniated Disc
- If you are overweight, then shred some pounds.
- Do posture correcting exercise.
- Walk 5-10 mins minimum after 2 hours of sitting.
- Eat nutrition-rich food.
- Avoid lifting heavy objects and while lifting light objects lift from the knees.
- Do not bend while sitting
To prevent neck pain:
- Don’t sleep on your stomach
- Keep a small cushion in the middle of both legs if you sleep on the side.
- Use soft pillow
- Don’t bend while looking at the phone, keep a phone stand on the line of your eyes.
- Which is more effective surgical or non-surgical methods?
Both are effective, but medicines, injections, and exercises can’t help with the problems like bladder and bowel dysfunction so that the surgical method is the best.
2. Which home remedies quickly reduces the herniated risk?
Heating pad and ice pack/peas pack therapy, also massage with cashew nut oil won’t disappoint.
3.What’s the cost of herniated/slipped disc surgery?
Surgical treatment – $4000-$15000
Non-surgical – $1000-$4000
4. Which doctors are reliable ones for herniated disc treatment?
Board-certified Physiatrists, internists, orthopedic surgeons, pain medicine specialists, and for nerve pains neurologists and neurosurgeons.