A herniated disc can be a very painful and uncomfortable condition. It can adversely impact on the quality of life and level of productivity among other issues. Thankfully, there are diverse treatment options available to people suffering from disc herniation. An issue here, however, is that effectiveness of these treatments has been questioned by some, to the extent such have been forced to accept this is a problem they might have to endure for the rest of their lives. Chances are that you are here in the hope of finding out what other options there are and what works. If that is the case, you are in the right place. We discuss all you need to know about a herniated disc and potent ways to fully recover from the condition.
The human spine is made of numerous vertebrae which combine to create a structure that provides support while also facilitating movement and offering protection to the spinal cord. The vertebrae are divided into different sections, including cervical (neck) vertebrae, thoracic (mid-back) vertebrae, and lumbar (low-back) vertebrae. Between these vertebrae are discs (intervertebral discs) which contain a jelly-like substance (nucleus pulposus) in the middle. It is encircled by rubbery rings that are made of cartilage and called the annular fibers or annulus fibrosus.
The bones in the spine are joined together by the ligaments that surround the discs. The spinal discs themselves serve as pads between the vertebrae to check the impact that is produced on the spinal column in the course of moving. An injury to the ligaments exposes the discs, causing them to degenerate and giving rise to pain in the affected area. The problem of a herniated disc, which is also known as a ruptured disc or slipped disc, arises when the soft, jelly-like substance within a disc has gone outside the normal anatomical range, pushing out through an opening in the annulus fibrosus.
Herniated discs and bulging discs are sometimes used interchangeably, but the two are technically different. Although a bulging disc involves internal material moving out of its normal anatomical range, it is a completely normal condition in certain cases. Some people are born with bulging discs.
Herniated discs are usually the result of the wear and tear that is associated with aging. This is known as disc degeneration. As people grow older, the fluid content around the spinal discs are gradually reduced. This makes the structures less flexible and more susceptible to tearing. Aging can make you more prone to disc injuries, especially as a result of the following:
Disk herniation affects the lower back (lumbar vertebrae) the most. The cervical spine in the neck region may also be affected in some cases. The most common symptoms that may be noticed when someone is suffering from a herniated disc include:
You should immediately seek medical attention if you do observe any of the fore-listed symptoms. This is especially important if you feel pain spreading from your neck or lower back to your arms or legs. The temptation may be there to suppress the problem with painkillers, but this could leave room for progression to a level where you won't be able to perform your regular daily activities any more.
Sign of tenderness around the area of your spine that is affected will be checked by your doctor. Aside physical examination, a neurological investigation may also be conducted to assess your muscle strength, sensation ability, walking ability and reflexes. The physician will also evaluate your medical history. One or more imaging and nerve tests, including X-rays, CT scan, MRI scan and electromyograms, may be ordered in making the right diagnosis. Most of these tests are somewhat dear, but they produce more accurate results than basic ones, including the straight-leg test.
There is a wide variety of approaches used in the treatment of a herniated disc. These differ in terms of efficacy and the ideal ones are typically determined based on the severity of the problem. Below are some of the treatment options available for dealing with symptoms of disc herniation.
When suffering from disc herniation, your doctor may prescribe certain drugs to help combat the symptoms. These may be over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers such as ibuprofen or naproxen. Cortisone injections may be administered around spinal nerves to deal with swelling and inflammation, while muscle relaxers may be recommended to patients experiencing muscle spasms. Nerve pain medications, such as gabapentin (Neurotin), tramadol (Ultram), and duloxetine (Cymbalta) are increasingly being used for patients as they have been shown to be potent in relieving pain caused by nerve damage.
You will also need to work on how you carry yourself because this is known to contribute considerably to disc herniation. Healing may be expedited by keeping your spine neutral. You do this by lifting your chest, squeezing your glutes and bracing your abdominal muscles. This helps to check continuous damage of the discs. Also, endeavor to keep your abs braced all through the day and lose excess body fat. This can reduce the amount of pressure on your spine thereby reducing disc damage and creating room for recovery.
You may get useful assistance in getting a herniated disc healed by making some important lifestyle changes. If you are the sedentary type that sit for most of your waking hours, make effort to leave your seat and increase your movement. It is erroneously thought that you can prevent damage by sitting in a particular manner. Newer research has shown that what matters most is to be constantly changing your position. Find a reason to walk around from time to time.
Ensure you use an ergonomic chair – which is increasingly becoming popular – because it offers a range of adjustment options to suit your back. Research suggests less stress is placed on the discs the closer you are to lying down. However, you should avoid being in a resting position for more than 30 minutes as this is also capable of weakening your muscles and causing stiff joints.
These rank among the most effective conservative treatments for herniated discs, alongside physical therapy. Exercise is very beneficial in that it helps to build muscles and improve strength in your abdomen, spinal erectors and legs. This is very vital for successful recovery from a herniated disc. Although it might sound strange to some people, strength and muscle building helps to reduce the amount of stress the discs are subjected to, thus facilitating thorough healing. This explains why athletes are better able to recover from disc injuries. The following are some suggestions to consider when it comes to exercises:
Diet plays a crucial role in whether you will be completely healed of a herniated disc or not. You should therefore make sure you maintain a healthy diet. Sufficient intake of fish oil must be ensured as this helps to fight inflammation, relieve pain and possibly slow disc degeneration. Your body should also be adequately supplied with water, which helps to deliver essential nutrients from food needed for disc damage healing.
It may not be possible to get all the nutrients that can help to speed up healing of a herniated disc from the just food you eat. You may therefore benefit from using supplements. Supplements containing Omega 3 fatty acids may help prevent inflammation and relieve pain resulting from disc degeneration. Those with vitamin C, chondroitin and glucosamine may also accelerate healing of herniated discs.
Patients should also consider growth hormone supplementation. Research has shown that raising HGH level can help to promote growth of new cartilage and prevent disc degeneration. HGH injections (somatropin) offers the most effective means of boosting growth hormone levels, but they are expensive, strictly regulated and likely to produce unpleasant side effects. Your best bet for raising HGH level is through the use of supplements or secretagogues made with natural ingredients that promotes natural production of growth hormone in the body. GenF20 Plus is a market leader when it comes to HGH supplements.
There are a number of surgical procedures that have been developed to treat herniated discs. These include open surgical repair, discectomy and microdiscectomy. The ideal procedure is determined based on individual condition and the state of the spine. Surgeries are usually only considered when conservative treatments have failed to produce desired results. They may involve removal of defective discs and/or implantation of an artificial disc. You are more likely to be considered a candidate for surgery if you experience persistent weakness, numbness, difficulty in walking or standing, or loss of bowel or bladder control.
In addition to the foregoing, the use of heat or ice, traction, spinal decompression machines, bracing, electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) and ultrasound are some of the several other techniques that are sometimes used for dealing with this spine problem.
With so many options for treating a herniated disc, one might think there is no reason for anyone to complain of any issue in this regard. The truth, however, is that a good number of these treatments are not significantly helpful and may in fact possibly worsen the situation. For instance, the use of heat or ice may inhibit the inflammatory response of your body to injuries and slow your recovery as a result, if not properly done.
Surgery should only be considered in emergency situations, such as when symptoms are not showing signs of improvement from other forms of treatment or there is loss of bladder or bowel control. Some doctors, however, often make the mistake of recommending surgical procedures to tackle disc herniation, even when there are still other options that are better explored. Surgeries are most advisable when your disc herniation has become quite severe and substantial. They are better avoided for minor, less sizeable herniations where nerve roots are not significantly impacted because unfavorably outcomes usually arise in such instances. With surgery, there are risks of infection, excessive scar tissue buildup, permanent nerve damage, and possibly paralysis.
The best approach to treating herniated discs is a combination of conservative physical therapy with an exercise regimen and proper nutrition. You should focus on exercises that improve your core muscles and strength as well as those that enhance your cardiovascular system. Endeavor to move around often and improve your posture. All of these will help speed up the healing time of a damaged disc. Mobility is very important in delivering nutrients to injured discs because they typically lack efficient blood supply. Nutrients can be better transported into and out of the discs when you increase your mobility.
Painkillers are best avoided because they do not allow you know whether your disc injury is improving or getting worse. Electrical muscle stimulation and chiropractic treatments are also not quite advisable.
In this fast age, many people love to get things done speedily - they desire to see results almost immediately. This has contributed to the growing tendency of promoters of certain products or treatment programs to promise results in no time, even when such claims are false. Some have claimed that a herniated disc can be healed in as little as one week! However, the minimum realistic time frame you should expect to be healed is three months, and that is with the best treatment approach. It is possible to notice reduction in pain within just few weeks, but a longer period of time is required for more thorough healing.
It is also worth pointing out that the size of disk herniation doesn't necessarily determine how fast you are healed. You might think that a smaller annular tear should heal faster. But it has been observed that larger disk herniations may heal quicker due to the body's ability to better detect such.
The best way you can protect yourself against or prevent recurrence of disk herniation is by avoiding injury to your spine. You should maintain a good posture always by having your back straight and properly aligned. Avoid sitting for long periods and let your arms and legs (not your back) do the most work when lifting heavy items. Keep your body weight in check and engage in exercises that strengthen your core muscles.
The prognosis or outlook for a herniated disk significantly depends on the problem severity and associated symptoms. Physical therapy, muscle and strength-building exercises, good nutrition and use of certain supplements offer the best approach to promoting quick healing, especially when symptoms have not become aggravated and considerably incapacitating. Efforts should also be made to properly manage stress as this can intensify pain sensation from damaged discs.
You should also consider using a powerful growth hormone supplement to tap into the hormone's disc regenerating benefit. A product like GenF20 Plus can work wonders, at a level a bit comparable to HGH injections, when combined with intensive exercises and intermittent fasting.
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