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Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Physician Kong Teck Chuan and Dr Jessica Gunawan on August 29, 2022

Natural Remedies To Heal A Slipped Disc

If you're between the ages of 30 and 50, you may be at an increased risk of a slipped disc due to things like aging and sitting at a desk job. Learn what your treatment options are here.

Slipped disc min scaled

A slipped disc may sound like something that only happens when you get seriously injured. However, it’s more common than you think – especially if you’re between the ages of 30 and 50.

In fact, some people with sciatica or lower back pain have a slipped disc and don’t even realize it. They may brush it off as normal pain due to getting older.

In this guide, we’ll help you identify the symptoms of a slipped disc and provide pain management tips to help regain your mobility.

What Is A Slipped Disc?

A slipped disc is a type of back injury that involves the displacement of the nucleus pulposus. This is 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 your leg, arm, or neck.

What Causes It?

A blonde woman sitting at a computer desk holding her lower back in pain
Sitting for too long at a desk job may increase back pain due to a slipped disc.

TCM and Western medicine have similar perspectives when it comes to explaining a slipped disc anatomically.

The aging process is the most common cause of a slipped disc. Wear and tear leads to degeneration of the disc over time. 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).

Also, the discs become less flexible and more susceptible to tearing or rupturing over time. A slipped disc can also be due to external force or injury.

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

  • Being overweight 
  • Genetics
  • 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  
  • Being sedentary

Tips For Managing A Slipped Disc

An image of a man holding his wrist in pain
Seek medical treatment for your slipped disc if you experience pain, numbness, or weakness in the arms, hands, or feet.

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 (cauda equina syndrome)
  • 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 

Herbal remedies that help with pain

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) and Panax notoginseng (San Qi).” 

Massaging the area with an herbal muscle relief oil can help stimulate blood flow and reduce swelling to alleviate pain. If you sit at a desk job, consider applying a muscle relief plaster to the area for added comfort.

Stretches and exercises for a slipped disc

An exercise program that consists of pelvic tilts and hip extensions and rolls may help alleviate back pain.

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 its original position. Redo the movement with the other knee. 

Talk to your doctor about medication

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. 

Try spinal decompression therapies

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), Da Chang Shu (BL25), and Wei Zhong (BL40).

Traction therapy uses pulleys and weights to stretch your spine. A healthcare provider may also utilize 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.

Consider surgery as a last resort

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 

Good Posture May Prevent A Slipped Disc

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

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