A person’s spine is made of vertebrae, which are cushioned with discs. These discs protect the bones from shock. When an injury occurs, that damages the disc’s inner gelatinous part, causing it to protrude through the outer ring, causes a herniated disc. When you have a slipped disc, the key to taking care of yourself is listening to your doctor and taking it upon yourself to practice safe, at home remedies.
How do you know if you’ve injured yourself in a way that caused a slipped disc? Here’s a list of possible symptoms that can come from a herniated disc:
- Pain/numbness (usually in one side)
- Pain down a(n) arm/leg
- Pain with particular movements
- Pain when walking
- Unusual muscle weakness
- Aching/burning in the affected area of the spine
The Doctor’s Diagnosis
Even if you often take Doctor Google’s advice as law and follow your research, a slipped disc can be a severe injury. If you are having pain in your back due to an injury or are experiencing some of these symptoms and think you may have injured yourself, get a formal diagnosis from your preferred physician.
A doctor can diagnose a slipped disc in a few different ways:
- Neurological exam (in which they will test your reflexes, muscle strength, walking ability, and pinching or vibration feelings in the affected spot)
- X-rays (when a doctor will take images of your spine, mainly to rule out any other issues that could be causing pain/discomfort)
- CT Scan (when they will take an image of your spinal structure)
- MRI (another image, which can locate the site of the herniated disc)
- Nerve tests (in which they measure how electrical impulses move along nerve tissue)
At Home Care
Once you’ve allowed your doctor to run their tests and formally diagnose you with a slipped disc, it’s up to you back at home to care for your injury correctly. While your medical professional will indeed prescribe you medication to help with the damage and give you some restrictions, here are some helpful self-care tips to keep in mind during your recovery:
- Listen to your doctor; that means taking your medication exactly as prescribed, avoiding anything they told you to, and reaching out if there are any further issues.
- Ask your doctor about over the counter pain medications to help with your pain.
- Rest your back when it is in pain, especially if the problem feels overwhelming.
- Avoid any movement or positions that make you uncomfortable or in pain.
- Keep your muscles active to improve strength, such as doing light exercises like short walks
- Use heat/cold therapy techniques, such as:
Heat: warm water bottle compress on injury spot, heating pad (kept on low), warm cloth
Cold: ice pack or a cold pack on the injured area for no more than twenty minutes, with a cloth between your skin and the pack
Though a slipped disc certainly offers some restrictions and inconveniences to your everyday life, knowing how to properly care for your injury can lead to faster and more complete recovery.