A herniated disc occurs when the soft tissues of intervertebral discs bulge through their tougher shell and cause nerve irritation. While some people are lucky and may not have any symptoms, many people with herniated discs experience pain, weak limbs, numbness, and muscle spasms.
While severe herniated discs may require surgery, some people can self-treat the problem. The body can heal through resorption. During resorption, circulation in the affected area will increase, and your bloodstream will absorb the bulging tissue to repair itself. This healing may take a few months, but you can speed up the process with a few non-invasive treatments.
Trying A Gentle Exercise Program
As long as you've rested a couple of days and have your doctor's permission, a gentle exercise program could greatly ease your pain. Low-impact exercise, like walking and swimming, can help you improve circulation and strengthen core muscles. If you are carrying excess weight, losing some pounds could take some pressure off the disc.
When patients cannot do too much exercise, a doctor may recommend stretches instead. Low back exercises—especially yoga poses—can relieve pressure and stretch out tense back, hip, and leg muscles. The cat-cow, cobra, and kneeling hip flexor yoga poses can really help your condition.
Alternating Ice Packs and Heating Pads
Ice packs are vital for new injuries because they greatly reduce inflammation and swelling. If a herniated disc gets too swollen, it can irritate nerves. Once swelling has gone down, then you can add heating pads into the mix. Heating pads help vessels expand so that fresh blood circulates nutrients and gets rid of metabolic waste. If your herniated disc has caused lots of inflammation, it's best to wait on the heating pad since it can perpetuate swelling.
Going in for Ultrasound Therapy
If your herniated disc is causing muscle spasms, then ultrasound therapy might help. During ultrasound therapy, high-frequency sound waves are sent through the injured area. These sound waves gently vibrate the tissue and create heat. This heat can relieve your pain, loosen sore muscles, and reduce inflammation.
Seeking Out a Chiropractor
Herniated discs are a common issue seen at chiropractors' offices. One way to treat this issue is with a flexion-distraction table. These special tables can be moved up and down to gently stretch a patient's spine. As a chiropractor adjusts the affected disc with a pumping motion, the table will move along too. Flexion-distraction tables help the chiropractor move the bulging tissue away from nerves and help to reduce inflammation.
Talk with a doctor like those at Southwest Florida Neurosurgical & Rehab Associates for more herniated disc treatments and for more information on speeding up your healing.