Ouch! 5 Ways to Relieve Pain from a Slipped Disc

People between the ages of 30 to 50 are extremely vulnerable to getting a slipped disc. The injury is a common cause of sciatica and back pain.

Woman holding the lower left side of her back with her left hand while standing outdoors

Are you between the age range of 30 to 50 and experiencing severe lower back pain? There’s a high possibility that you have a slipped disc. The injury involves a displacement of the nucleus pulposus – a jelly-like material that enables the vertebral disc to withstand compression and tension forces.

It’s fairly common and can also bring about sciatica – nerve pain that stems from irritation of the sciatic nerve – and pain in a leg, an arm, or the neck.

Read on to discover how the injury occurs and ways to achieve symptom relief holistically.

How and Why Does a Slipped Disc Happen?

Woman smiling while sitting at a table and using a laptop
Prolonged sitting can increase a person’s risk of a slipped disc.

The ageing process is the most common cause of a slipped disc. Young people have discs with high water content. However, as you age, the amount of water in the discs decreases, thus reducing your flexibility. The spaces between vertebrae will also begin to shrink and narrow. Consequently, it’ll increase the likelihood of an abnormal protrusion (herniation).  

In addition, several risk factors may also contribute to the onset of the injury. These include: 

  • Being overweight 
  • Sitting in the same position for a prolonged period 
  • Lifting heavy objects without using the proper technique 
  • Performing tasks that require constant lifting, pulling, bending, or twisting motions 
  • Trauma  

Methods to Correct a Slipped Disc 

Pain from a slipped disc can be treated at home. The pain will go away after some time but if it impairs your ability to function normally, visit a doctor for treatment. Some of the considerations that may prompt the need for consultation are: 

  • Trouble standing or walking 
  • Pain that prevents you from going to work 
  • A numb or tingling sensation in the arms 
  • A loss of bladder and bowel control 
  • A loss of strength in the arms, hands, and feet 
  • Symptoms that are worsening or aren’t getting better after a four to six-week period 
Woman in a cat pose on a purple-coloured yoga mat
Cat and cow yoga poses can alleviate lower back pain.

Get your body moving! 

An exercise programme that consists of cat-cow stretches, lower abdomen strengthening, pelvic tilts, and hip extensions and rolls may help alleviate back pain.

A cat-cow stretch starts in a kneeling position. Arch your back while looking upwards. Then, contract your abdominal muscles while rounding your back and looking down between your hands. Repeat the sequence five times.

For a lower abdomen exercise, lie on a flat surface with your knees bent. Bring your right knee to your chest and hold for five seconds. Do the same with your left knee. Next, straighten your right leg as you lift it. Lower your leg down slowly before lifting your left. Perform both moves five times or more. 

Pelvic tilts and hip rolls also require you to lie flat. To do a pelvic tilt, simultaneously contract your abdominal muscles and press your back to the floor. Hold for five seconds as you breathe normally. A hip roll involves bending your knees and placing both hands on your shoulders. Turn your head to the right and both knees to the left. Replicate the same movement on the opposite side. 

Hip extensions will need you to be on all fours. Move your right knee forward and backward. Subsequently, straighten it before bringing it back to the original position. Redo the movement with the other knee.  

Medicate, not meditate 

An epidural or nerve block describes steroid medication injected directly into your spine. It helps calm nerve swelling and inflammation that transpires as a result of a slipped disc. 

A healthcare provider may also prescribe muscle relaxants or anti-inflammatory pain relievers. 

Going under the knife 

Surgical intervention can help treat a slipped disc by relieving pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. Examples of these are:  

  • A corpectomy to remove a vertebrae or disc 
  • A diskectomy to remove a herniated disc 
  • A foraminotomy to relieve pain by expanding nerve root openings 
  • A laminectomy to remove part of the bone around a herniated disc and expand the spinal canal (a hollow passage that houses the spinal cord) 
  • A spinal fusion to join two or more vertebrae together 
  • An artificial disc surgery to replace a damaged disc with an artificial one 
  • An osteophyte removal procedure to relieve pressure on the discs by removing bone spurs 

Undergo spinal decompression therapy

Non-surgical treatment of a slipped disc is made up of a few components, such as acupuncture, traction therapy, chiropractic care, and nerve stimulation.

It’s thought that the combination of acupuncture and infrared heat lamps can encourage blood circulation in the smallest vessels, and relax muscles by loosening connective tissues. It also improves qi and blood flow through the meridians and vessels.

The points along the meridians that can be worked on are shen shu, (BL23, 肾俞), da chang shu (BL25, 大肠俞), and wei zhong (BL40, 委中).

Traction therapy uses pulleys and weights to stretch your spine. A healthcare provider may also utilise an inversion table during treatment. It’ll have you lying on a table that tilts your body and makes use of gravity to take pressure off your spine.  

Use herbal formulas 

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), applying a topical paste or using herbal formulas is perceived to correct imbalances associated with lower back pain. “It can support blood flow and qi to the affected area, clear Dampness, and strengthen the Kidney system,” explains Eu Yan Sang physician Kong Teck Chuan.

He adds, “Two of the herbs that can be considered are Eucommia (du zhong, 杜仲) and Panax notoginseng (san qi, 三七). 

It’s possible to prevent a slipped disc with good posture, proper lifting technique, regular exercise and stretching, and weight control. If you suffer an injury, take comfort in knowing that early intervention will help ease the pain and improve your quality of life.  

Do consult a TCM practitioner to ensure the safety of alternative treatments. If you’re pregnant, have been diagnosed with other health conditions, or are experiencing neurological symptoms or pain in other areas of the body, seek clinical advice instead.

References

  1. Cleveland Clinic. Herniated Disk (Slipped, Ruptured or Bulging Disk). [online] [Accessed 27 July 2022]
  2. OrthoInfo. Herniated Disk in the Lower Back. [online] [Accessed 27 July 2022]
  3. MyHEALTH. SLIPPED DISC OF SPINE. [online] [Accessed 27 July 2022]
  4. Cleveland Clinic. Spinal Decompression Therapy. [online] [Accessed 27 July 2022]

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