A herniated disc, also referred to as slipped disc or ruptured disc, is the outcome of the displacement of the cushion that lies between the spinal vertebra. When a portion of this cushioning is pushed out of its normal position, it usually presses upon the spinal cord and spinal nerves, causing discomfort. To achieve relief from the related symptoms, there are a number of treatment options, including herniated disc therapy. Your doctor will advise you as to what will provide the most relief, depending on the intensity of pain and the nature of your condition.
Among the people who have a herniated disc, about 80 to 90 percent improve and return to a normal life in a month or two, without undergoing aggressive treatment. For this reason, nonsurgical treatments are usually recommended first, unless serious or progressive muscle weakness or loss of bladder or bowel control is experienced. If diagnosed with a herniated lumbar disc, nonsurgical treatment options range from medication to control pain, bracing, heat or cold therapy (or both), hydrotherapy, electrical stimulation, stretching, traction, aerobic exercise using pain-free activities, and dynamic lumbar stabilization exercises. These treatments help reduce the pain, while one waits for the body to heal itself. A primary recommendation is a day or two (not more) of bed rest on a firm surface, to ease the pain.
Heat and Cold Therapy
It is for you to choose between cold and heat therapy, depending on which one provides more relief. For cold therapy, hold an ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables, against the sore area, a few times in the day, for about 15 minutes each time. However, one must not place the ice directly on the skin, or there is risk of frostbite. If you feel that heat therapy will work better, you could try a heating pad, warm packs, a warm bath, or a heat lamp for pain relief. Get your doctor's approval to use heat therapy within the first 48 hours of pain, and be careful not to scald your skin.
Minute electrical currents used to stimulate crucial points on a nerve pathway are referred to as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). This treatment is carried out through electrodes taped to the skin. While the exact way in which it yields results is not understood, it is neither painful nor harmful, and presents the possibility of pain relief.
Herniated Disc Physical Therapy
After the pain subsides, one should start exercising and undergoing physical therapy to stabilize and strengthen the lower back. This may include exercises to strengthen back muscles, help correct posture, and improve flexibility. One program used is dynamic lumbar stabilization. Many find that stretching exercises are affective in controlling initial pain. The McKenzie maneuvers are known to reduce or even eliminate leg pain as well as back pain within minutes to hours. All exercises must be done under the guidance of a spine physical therapist. Other activities, such as walking, biking, swimming or elliptical machine workouts, may also help with pain.
Other Therapy Options
Wearing a back brace that helps maintain alignment and good posture may provide relief. It Is known to lower pressure within the affected disc, decrease spinal motion, and also keep the soft tissues of the back warm. It is advised for short-term use, until the back muscles are strengthened through exercise. Another option is hydrotherapy, which may have you enjoying a whirlpool bath or exercising (walking, stretching or joint range-of-motion) in water. Traction is another option, which works by stretching the lower back. Pain may be decreased as the pressure on the herniated disc is reduced.
The severe pain that comes from a herniated disc is likely to ease in two weeks, and dissipate after about a month and a half. For this reason, most doctors recommend non-invasive disc therapy, or try to control the pain through medication.
Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only, and should not be replaced for the advice of a medical professional.