A slipped disc, also commonly referred to as a herniated disc, can result from injury, improper lifting, or age-related wear and tear. As you grow older, the shock-absorbing discs located in between the individual vertebrae of your spine gradually lose their youthful elasticity and water content, which makes them more susceptible to tearing and rupture. A torn disc is colloquially known as a “slipped” disc, although while discs can become misshapen, they do not technically slip out of place.
While often painful, a slipped disc can also sometimes manifest without any symptoms at all. In any case, if you do experience back pain, neck pain, or weakness, numbness, or tingling in your back, arm, or leg, you could have an injured disc and you should see your physician right away to obtain a proper diagnosis. Oftentimes, when begun early, conservative treatment for a slipped disc is very successful in helping patients to cope with this sometimes debilitating condition and get on with their lives.
To address the symptoms of a slipped disc, a physician will typically recommend surgical intervention only in severe cases after conservative options have failed. The reason is that many patients see marked improvement over time as the displaced portion of the slipped disc shrinks in response to non-surgical treatment. Simple home remedies, such as over-the-counter pain relievers, cold or heat packs, and avoiding the activities that intensify the pain, often prove to be very effective. Also, perhaps surprisingly, too much rest can actually serve to complicate your recovery by allowing your muscles to weaken and your joints to stiffen. Therefore, it’s best to limit your daytime rest periods to about 30 minutes at a time. You’ll likely feel much better after taking a short walk.
Protect Your Emotional Health
The painful symptoms of a slipped disc can affect much more than your physical well-being – they can impact your emotional and psychological health as well. Pain will naturally influence your mood, which in turn affects every aspect of your life. In addition, worries about attendant issues, such as being unable to work and money problems, can lead to stress and depression. Don’t ignore this additional strain, which can create a cycle of even more pain. Instead, talk with your physician about ways to deal with your anxiety, such as relaxation techniques or medication, which will aid your recovery.
Most importantly, try to be patient. Keep in mind that the majority of slipped disc patients see their symptoms improve after about six weeks of diligent self-care, and find recovery within approximately six months of attentive noninvasive treatment.