The spine’s vertebrae are cushioned by soft, jelly-like discs, which allow you to move around and bend over comfortably. A herniated disc refers to a condition where the spinal disc slips out of place, irritating the surrounding nerves and causing severe pain. It can occur in any part of the spine, and unless it causes pain, it may go unnoticed for a long time. Dr. Bart Gatz is a pain management specialist who can provide the highest level of care and effective pain relief to patients with herniated discs.
Identifying the Condition
The most common areas for herniated discs are in the neck and lower spine. Try to recognize the symptoms in these areas. If the herniated disc is in the neck, your arms and shoulders will most likely hurt. If the herniated disc is in the lower spine, you will most likely experience pain in the legs. The pain may become more intense when you move in a certain way or you sneeze and cough. Other symptoms to note include, numbness or tingling feelings in the arms or legs, which occurs when the nerves are compressed. You may also experience weakness and have difficulty carrying heavy items or walking fast.
If you suspect that you might have a herniated disc, make an appointment to see your doctor. The physician will perform several tests to determine where the pain comes from and why. Other types of tests that may be conducted include reflexes and muscle strength, coordination and balance, sense of touch in different areas of the body, and the ability to move your head or limbs. Imaging and nerve tests may also be done.
Depending on the stage of the injury, Home remedies can be used to relieve pain and discomfort caused by a herniated disc. Cold packs may be used in the first few days to reduce swelling and pain. Wrap the ice pack in a towel, and place it on the affected area for about 10 minutes.
Staying active is recommended to prevent stiffening and to help you recover. Different exercises and activities are suitable for different stages of the problem. Talk to a physical therapist to find the most appropriate activities for you. Vigorous activities such as lifting heavy weights may worsen the condition.
Adjust your sleeping position to take the pressure off the nerves and spine, and relieve pain. The doctor may suggest lying in the fetal position with a pillow between the knees or lying on your stomach with pillows underneath the abdomen, to raise your back and relieve pressure from the nerves.
The doctor will likely suggest taking over-the-counter medication to deal with mild pain. Possible medications include naproxen or ibuprofen. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can be taken, but they are not recommended for people with asthma, high blood pressure or kidney and heart problems. Consult your doctor before taking any kind of medication, be it over-the-counter, herbal or dietary supplements.
If you have severe pain, the doctor will recommend prescription medication, such as nerve pain medications, muscle relaxants, and narcotics. This will also depend on your medical history and symptoms. Cortisone injections can suppress pain, inflammation, and swelling. Corticosteroids are administered to eliminate or delay the need for surgery by trying to get the inflammation down in time for the body to heal. If none of these medications work, the doctor will recommend surgery.