So that the spine does not get damaged as a result of the vertebrae banging together, there are pads that act as shock absorbers in between each one. These pads are referred to as discs. At times the discs become damaged as they can split or force their way through the space in the bones. When this happens, it is called a slip disc, although this is not really the ideal description of what happens. The tissue around this can herniate and the gel that is inside can be pushed into the tissue that is around it. It is now that you will find that you require lower back pain treatment and will have to find out how to cure a slip disc.
The pain is caused due to the gel putting pressure on a nearby nerve and it may be hard to identify as the pain could be felt on any part of the nerve, not just where the gel has moved. There are people who are lucky enough not to feel any pain, and while that may not be that common, a lot of people will not have to undergo surgery. There are a number of names given to the condition that is described:
- Slipped disc
- Degenerated disc
- Herniated disc
- Ruptured disc
- Prolapsed disc
It is more often the discs lower in the back that mean you need lower back pain treatment, but at times can be much higher up requiring the input of a back and spine doctor. It is not unheard of for the pain to occur in the neck.
Risks and causes
One of the main causes is the aging process. As we get older the elasticity that was once in the discs has gone and so has the strength of the surrounding structures. Also, you can cause damage if you lift a lot and do not do it properly. This is a common reason for people needing lower back pain treatment. Too much physical activity of any kind will be problematic and the one that you cannot prepare for will be sudden trauma.
The symptoms can be felt anywhere along the spine and also along the length of the nerve. Knowing that the pain is in one place may not automatically make you think that the spine is the issue. When this happens, it is called “referred” pain and the severity can vary. It can also affect the legs, arms and organs and make you suitable for lower back pain treatment. The symptoms for each area are as follow:
- Slipped disc in the neck – The pain will be felt in the neck, shoulder, hand and arm. The pain will become worse the more the neck is moved and will manifest in the form of tingling, numbness and weakness.
- Slipped disc in lower back – Pain that radiates from the buttocks to the knee and further down. Again, it will be pain and numbness that is felt and when the sciatic nerve is the one affected the condition is called sciatica. There can be shooting pains around the anus and genitals.
If the pain in either area leads to the loss of bowel or bladder function, then treatment should be sought right away from the back and spine doctor.
Seeking help from a back and spine doctor
Ideally the pain will not last for long and will let you get on with your day to day activity. When this is no longer the case, then you should turn to the back and spine doctor who will be able to provide relief and advice. If the bladder or bowels are affected, then the doctor should be called immediately as this may require you to visit a hospital. If there are chest pains and any signs of fever, then the same applies. If you receive an injury to the neck or back, then it needs to be looked at. This could be a sporting injury or the result of a fall or accident. If the pain is severe it may be necessary to call for an ambulance and they will be the people who begin to carry out the lower back pain treatment.
Even if it turns out the issue is not that serious, it will be understood that the call is made when the neck and back are the problem. If necessary, there will be immobilization of the spine and neck by the back and spine doctor, ensuring that any issues will not be made worse. When you find that you are not able to walk as far as you could or with the same level of ease, you should visit the doctor to be examined. They will decide if it is time for you to begin with lower back pain treatment.
What to expect
When you are at the surgery of the back and spine doctor, they are going to take the information that you give them very seriously. First of all, they will ask you to tell them all about your medical history. They will want to know all about:
- Spine injuries you have suffered in the past.
- Injuries that you may have suffered – severity and treatment received.
- General illnesses. Here they will want to know how well you respond treatment and also how you react to medication.
Then the back and spine doctor will move onto the physical examination which will concentrate on the neurological aspects. They will also want to test the nerve function of the spine and check out the stomach. It may seem to be long winded, but it will help them find out everything that they need to know. Sometimes you may be sent for further tests if the doctor does not find out what they want to know. It could mean having blood tests as well as having to give a sample of urine. Just because they are not arranged right away, it does not mean that you will not be sent for them at a later date. Lower back pain treatment of another kind may be tried before the doctor takes this step.
X-rays are an ideal way for the back and spine doctor to determine what is happening in the body and it could be a general one or if more details are needed, it will be a cat scan. Even then it will not be possible to pinpoint a prolapsed disc. These are going to show if there is a tumour, a problem with the bone – chip or break for example. To make sure that every angle is covered, an MRI scan may be ordered as well as myelogram. This is when a dye is put into the spinal column and will allow the doctor to see of there are any deformed discs or if a nerve is suffering trauma. It will normally be the case that you have suffered for up to 6 weeks before there will be the inconvenience and expense of undergoing the aforementioned tests.
Sometimes it is possible to find some relief from remedies that are tried at home and this time can be important when it comes to back pain treatment. It will normally be at the discretion of the back and spine doctor and will consist of heat packs and ice packs, rest and making sure that there is not a lot of movement on connection with the back. Bed rest will not be suggested as this can lead to the back seizing up and this is not what is required. Pain medication could be suggested but they will only be the likes of Tylenol and ibuprofen. Some exercise may be suggested after a few days, but it will only be gently stretching movements that will elongate the back. After that the emphasis will be on strengthening the area.
Which doctor will know how to cure a slipped disc?
Sometimes you will only have to see a general doctor, but it is also possible that there will need to be a specialist involved and this will be in addition to the back and spine doctor. It could be one of a number of areas covered that will provide the help, including doctors who specialize in:
- Internal medicine
- Pain Management
What pain treatment is there?
Quite often rest will be advised for lower back pain treatment, but this will not be a long term solution. Normal activity is recommended but again this is only when normal activity is quite gentle. Things such as bending, stretching and lifting should be avoided. If medication is introduced, it will likely be anti-inflammatory as these can usually be taken with mild painkillers. If it is felt that the muscles need to be relaxed, then Valium is a likely suggestion, as is cortisone. Nerve pain medication will be used as part of the lower back pain treatment and these can include Lyrica or tramadol.
Normally medication will be tried for around 6 weeks to see if that is all that is needed to solve the problem. If it does not, the back and spine doctor may decide that they need to do something else to repair the damage. If it is likely that the damage is going to be long lasting, then surgery may be considered to prevent this happening. A serious decision has to be made as surgery can be dangerous as well and not all lower back pain treatment needs to include it. If it is decided that this is the only way forward, then there are still options. These will not be made by the pain doctor, but you will be referred to a neurosurgeon or orthopaedic specialist who will determine the final outcome of treatment.
Follow up actions
The first thing that you will be told by the back and spine doctor is not to try to do too much too soon. You need to give yourself time to heal.
As with most things, prevention is better than cure and you should receive plenty of advice from the back and spine doctor. Taking regular exercise will be a great way to keep a slipped disc at bay. Working to build up strength in the lower back is an ideal way to start. Learning to lift properly is important and it is vital that you do not stand and twist at the same time. If you do a lot of lifting, you may be advised to use a spine brace as part of the lower back pain treatment. The back will then be forced to move in the correct way. Also keeping at a sensible weight will reduce the strain put on the back.
Mostly there will be relief without surgery and it is very likely that you will be able to return to normal functions without further lower back pain treatment. The worrying thing is that often the symptoms will return – if you suffer once you are likely to suffer again. To limit the risks, carry out exercises that will be recommended for you by the back and spine doctor.
Back pain causes
It is normally the nerve roots that cause pain and this is when they are irritated. Sciatica is the normal condition that will be diagnosed, and the pain felt will be sharp. As the discs in the spine become thinner, they are more likely to herniate. Once they can push out past the central cavity, they are able to come into contact with the root of the nerves. Although it may take a while for symptoms to fully take over, it is estimated that 33% of people over 20 years of age will have a herniated disc, but out of this only around 3% will go on to suffer nerve impingement. This is good news, as it means that you have a great chance of not suffering later in life even if the early signs are not as good as you would want them to be.