An estimated 80% of the U.S. population is affected by back issues at some point in their lives. This means that you’re not alone when it comes to your back troubles.
There are plenty of experts out there who are well-versed in providing tips and treatment for effective relief.
Do you have a herniated disk? Here are some of the best ways to manage it at home.
What Exactly is a Herniated Disk?
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with a herniated disk, here’s what you should understand about this condition; A herniated disk is characterized by a problem with the rubbery cushion that’s found between the vertebrae of the spine. Each disk found between the vertebrae is comprised of a soft, jelly-like center, and tough exterior.
A herniated disk, also sometimes referred to as a slipped disk, occurs when the jelly-like center of the disk pushes out through a rupture in the tougher exterior.
This rupture then irritates the nerves that run through the spinal column, which results in back pain and numbness in the limbs.
The great news is that a herniated disk generally doesn’t require surgery and can be managed with therapy and other simple treatments at home.
Symptoms of a Herniated Disk
Most commonly, a herniated disk occurs in the lumbar spine, or lower back. However, they can occur in the upper part of the spine such as the neck.
Some common symptoms of a herniated disk include:
- Shooting pain in the buttocks, thigh, and calf which is caused by a lumbar herniated disk
- Shooting pain in the shoulder or along the arm, caused by a herniated disk in the neck
- Numbness or tingling in certain limbs, namely the body part most affected by the irritated nerves in the spine
- Muscle weakness which is caused by the irritated nerves which tend to weaken over time
Some people may also have a herniated disk and experience no symptoms whatsoever.
So, with the above symptoms in mind, when should you see a doctor? Many forms of back pain are manageable on your own. But you should make a point of seeing a doctor if you experience numbness, tingling, or muscle weakness in any limbs or extremities. Or see a doctor if your treatments at home are not helping enough and your life is being impacted.
Herniated Disk Home Remedies
As mentioned, a herniated disk does not always call for drastic measures such as surgery. More-often-than-not, a herniated disk can be successfully managed in the comfort of your own home. And over time, it should repair itself.
Here are a few simple home remedies to help:
1. Over-the-Counter (OTC) Pain Medication
Now, it’s not always the best choice to reach for pain medication and anti-inflammatories to manage a herniated disk. The long-term use of medication is never a great idea for your health.
But if you’re feeling particularly uncomfortable, some of the best OTC pain medications include ibuprofen and naproxen. These both help to relieve pain and inflammation.
You should check with your primary care provider to see if these medications are suitable for you.
2. Reduce Muscle Spasms with Heat or Cold
If your back pain is new and you’ve only just been diagnosed with a herniated disk, you’ll have to start off with cold packs to relieve pain and inflammation.
After a few days, make the switch over to heat packs at a gentle warmth to relieve pain and discomfort.
3. Avoid Excessive Bed Rest
Contrary to what you may think, too much bed rest is actually a bad thing when it comes to back injury. Why? Because it leads to stiff joints and weakened muscles, which only complicates your recovery.
But in saying this, rest is still important. Set aside 30-minute intervals of rest in a comfortable position. Then go for a slow, short walk after or keep yourself busy while you’re on your feet.
The best thing to do is to avoid activities that will only worsen the condition of a herniated disk. This includes heavy lifting, twisting your spine at odd angles, jumping, skipping, or other high-impact exercises.
4. Do Some Gentle Exercise
Gentle exercise is extremely important in the management of a herniated disk. If you visit a physical therapist for treatment, they will drive this point home.
Aside from the exercises recommended by a physical therapist, low-impact exercise is also important. This helps to keep the spine and the joints limber, which aids in your recovery.
Low-impact exercises include walking, swimming, cycling, and restorative yoga.
5. Be Mindful of Your Movements
One of the most important strategies in managing a herniated disk is to minimize the pressure around it. With this in mind, be very mindful of your movements in everyday life.
It’s always wise to avoid standing or sitting for extended periods or sleeping on your stomach. Avoid wearing high-heels and if you must lift a heavy object, keep your back straight and use your knees.
Try to avoid repetitive movements which can cause strain, such as bending or reaching. Focus on maintaining a good posture when standing, sitting, and driving.
6. Practice Mindful Meditation
While meditation may not actually do anything physically for your discomfort with a herniated disk, it can completely alter your state-of-mind. And when it comes to daily pain management, mental strength is key.
Meditation helps you to relieve pain by focusing on your breathing and other positive affirmations. For some people, mindful meditation may even reduce their dependence on medication over time.
And just FYI- you don’t have to sit on the ground with your legs crossed to successfully meditate! You can do so from anywhere you please, whether it’s laying down in bed or from your recliner. So as long as you find what works for you.
Find Relief with NWA Interventional Pain
Looking for expert pain relief for the condition of a herniated disk? NWA Interventional Pain is the professional you need, specializing in an array of pain-related conditions.
Learn more about the extensive assortment of treatments we offer and how we can help you find the relief you deserve…