Your spinal disc consists of a soft inner core and a thick outer layer. It is sandwiched between two spinal vertebrae and joins the two vertebrae while allowing movement of the vertebrae. It also acts as a shock absorber for the spine, absorbing the impact due to various movements like walking, twisting, bending, or lifting.
When a part or all the soft inner core leaks, bulges, or slips out from the thick outer layer, it causes spinal disc herniation, also referred to as slipped disc or bulging disc, or ruptured disc.
A herniated disc is one of the leading causes of low back pain. The symptoms of a herniated disc may also include burning, tingling, numbing or shock-like sensation, and muscle weakness. Depending on the location of the herniated disc, it may cause pain in the neck, shoulders, upper back, or pain in the lower back, or radiating pain in the arms and legs.
Here are some things you can do to help relieve pain and heal a herniated disc at home. As always, consult with your medical professional to be sure your at-home self care is appropriate for your situation.
1. Hot and Cold therapies
Warm compresses using an electric heating pad, or a bag of wheat or rice can help relax muscles and joints and encourage the flow of blood and nutrients to the affected area encouraging natural healing.
Cold compress in the form of ice or gel packs helps to reduce swelling and inflammation by reducing the flow of blood to the affected area. Cooling can also reduce sensitivity to pain.
Using hot and cold compresses alternatively can be effective in managing pain and encouraging natural healing. Apply compresses for 10-15 minutes per session. Overuse may damage skin so be careful while applying the compress.
2. Low-impact exercises and stretches
Special low-impact exercises and stretches can help relieve pain due to herniated disc. These exercises and stretches also help to increase flexibility, muscle strength and encourage the flow of blood and nutrients to the herniated disc to encourage natural healing. Stretching can also reduce stress on the spine and the herniated disc and reduce pain.
3. Nutrition rich diet
Eating nutrient-rich food helps promote a strong immune system which can help reduce inflammation and encourage healing. Eating a balanced diet rich in proteins, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and essential fats can aid in natural healing. Drinking plenty of water can encourage the flow of blood and nutrients to the herniated disc. Eating foods that are rich in antioxidants (berries, green leafy vegetables), collagen (bone broth), anti-inflammatory herbs (ginger, garlic, turmeric) can help and repair damaged tissues.
4. Avoid smoking
Smoking increases the likelihood of developing degenerative disc disease which is a condition leading to damage and degeneration of the spinal discs. Degenerative disc disease can cause a herniated disc. Research published in the PLOS Journal noted that smoking reduces the exchange of nutrients and oxygen to the spinal discs. Smoking also increases the chances of developing inflammation.
5. Good posture
Good posture while sitting, standing, or walking can greatly reduce stress on the lower back and the spine relieving pressure on the herniated disc. A good posture includes sitting upright with your feet flat on the ground and knees at level with your hips. Avoid bending, slouching, or leaning forward as it may put pressure on the spine and the spinal discs.
6. Maintaining a healthy body weight
Obesity can put pressure and stress on the spine. Obesity also increases the risk of several other medical conditions including diabetes that further increases the risk of developing a herniated disc. Maintain a healthy body weight to improve overall health and reduce pressure on the spine.
7. Proper lifting technique
Improper lifting can put undue stress on the spine, irritate your herniated disc, and increases the chance of developing other injuries. To correctly lift a load, bend your knees and hips while keeping your feet a little apart for good support. Slowly lift by straightening your hips and knees and holding the load close to your body.
Selfcare and home management aids in faster recovery
Self care and management of symptoms at home can help your herniated disc heal faster as well as reduce pain and inflammation. Proper care at home can also reduce the likelihood of a recurrence and help you get back to your normal routine quicker. However, if you have new or worsening pain, numbness, weakness, or loss of bladder or bowel movement, seek emergency medical care.
Need more ways to help treat at home between sessions, contact the team at Cianci Chiropractic today.