What Is The Best Treatment For A Herniated Disc?
Back pain has been a problem for many and is becoming one of the most common conditions faced by people all over the world. Our sedentary lifestyles, and often lack of stretching and exercising may be to blame. One of the more common causes of back pain are herniated or bulging discs. NOTE: It is possible to have a herniated disc and not know about it. It is something that has to be discovered via medical testing. Some only experience a few days or weeks of back pain while others suffer from chronic back pain for years without a proper treatment plan. When it comes to problems like a herniated disc, most back pain sufferers tend to think the only viable option is surgery, which is why so many put it off until surgery is the only choice.
Despite, what you may have heard… you can heal a herniated disc in many cases.
But for those who listen to their bodies for signs that something other than simple back pain is afoot, there are other less invasive treatments options available for a herniated disc, aka as a bulging disc. The key to effective treatment is to tackle both the pain as well as the cause of the herniated disc. If you only focus on the pain your relief will be immediate but short-lived, where as a two-pronged approach is the best way to ensure proper treatment.
What is a Herniated Disc in Easy to Understand Terms?
One of the primary reasons those with a herniated disc go untreated for so long is that they tend to self-diagnose, but back pain can be so excruciating that it is difficult to distinguish between generic lower back pain, sciatica and a herniated disc. The first step in treating a herniated disc is getting the proper diagnosis so you can get a treatment plan that works.
By working with your back pain specialist you will discover a multitude of treatments for a herniated disc before you even have to consider surgery. The non-surgical treatments are cheaper, less risky and allow you to start targeting the pain and the cause at the same time. Lower back pain is often a symptom of a herniated disc, but don’t assume it is the cause of your pain. Always consult a specialist before beginning any treatment program.
Safe Stretches for Herniated Discs
If you are not physically active on a regular basis chances are good that you don’t take the time to stretch your muscles. This is truly unfortunate considering how much time we spend sitting down, slouched over a computer screen or tablet. Stretching is about more than warming up muscles or cooling them down before or after a workout; it is also about improving the range of motion of certain muscles.
Stretching, along with exercise is also a great way to correct poor posture which is almost always a factor in herniated discs and other types of back pain.
Hot & Cold Therapy
When the pain of a herniated disc gets to be too much you may want to employ hot and cold therapy. The heat aspect of the therapy will loosen muscles and thereby increasing your range of motion by increasing the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the affected areas. The cold part is mostly about non-chemical pain relief, but the combination of hot and cold will help stop muscle spasms that make movements difficult.
Although this is a short term solution it is perfect to employ after a particularly grueling exercise regimen or when the pain is too much.
Decrease the Inflammation
Where there is herniation there is usually also inflammation. By reducing the inflammation you can reduce your pain level, which sometimes necessary to allow you to feel well enough to begin a treatment program.
Way before you even think of surgery to treat a herniated disc you should be thinking of inversion therapy, which can offer pain relief directly to the most affected area. Not only is inversion therapy a great alternative to over the counter or prescription pain relievers, but it also relieves pressure from the nerve roots of the spine. Discs require adequate space and lubrication, the process helps restore this crucial space.
Most people prefer inversion therapy because it will slowly begin to separate the vertebrae to increase the spaces between them. By hanging upside down or at an angle, inversion therapy lets gravity take over rather than relying on more invasive methods to relieve the pressure on the spinal discs.
In fact inversion therapy is one of the most effective treatments for a herniated disc because it increases circulation to the discs, which alleviates pain and it attempts to reverse the herniated disc.
Drink More Water
A dehydrated body is more susceptible to swelling, and by increasing your water intake you can help reduce swelling in and around the herniated discs. Since most people do not drink enough water each day you may have to make a special effort to increase your water consumption, but know that a hydrated body is more prepared for healing than a dehydrated one.
Drinking more water and improving your diet in general will help reduce swelling around the herniated discs and it may aid in the release of waste from the injured spinal discs that sometimes occurs during inversion therapy.
Exercise, both resistance training and aerobic exercise, has long been considered an effective way to prevent and treat back pain. For herniated disc sufferers exercise will help alleviate the pain by improve posture and strengthening abdominal muscles also referred to as ‘core muscles’. A strong core and good posture will stabilize the spine, making it less susceptible to muscle imbalances and trauma.
Additionally making exercise a regular part of your life will help you maintain a proper weight, which decreases the likelihood of you putting undue stress on your spine which can lead to a herniated disc.
Start slow with aerobic exercises like walking or water aerobics and be sure to add yoga or Pilates to your regimen until your pain subsides enough for regular physical activity to resume.
You and your back pain specialist should always start with these treatments for a herniated disc before graduating to more invasive treatments like surgery. In addition to be expensive, the risk of infection during surgery is quite high and provides no guarantee that the problem won’t return.