Pain From a Herniated Disc? Here’s a New Option.
What’s the difference between a Herniated Disc, Slipped Disc, and Ruptured Disc?
They’re just different terms for the same thing. To explain the problem, here’s a brief physiology lesson:
Your spine is made of a stack of spiny bones known as vertebrae. Providing a cushion between each vertebra are rubbery ‘discs’. As we get older, the discs’ fibrous outer ring, known as the annulus, typically degenerates from ongoing wear. That’s normal.
Sometimes the annulus can begin to tear, from the inside out. This is the condition we refer to as a Herniated Disc, and it may or may not produce symptoms. However in advanced cases, the gel-like fluid that’s encased in the middle of the disc can begin to leak out through the tears.
Oh, the pain.
If the fluid flows into the adjacent spinal canal and irritates the central nerves there, you’ll know it. How? The pain can be pretty rough.
Plus when the leaked material is exposed to the immune system, it can trigger an autoimmune response that causes inflammation, further damaging the nerve and resulting in, you guessed it, more pain.
The source of the problem is most often in the lower back, in which case you’re likely to feel pain not in the back, but rather in one foot, leg or buttock – since the nerves there are directly connected to the impacted nerves in the spinal canal.
If the Herniated Disc is in the neck, the sharp, burning pain is typically felt in one arm or shoulder. You might also experience weakness, tingling or numbness in the affected extremity.
Sometimes, improper or repeated lifting of heavy objects can contribute to the problem. So can excess body weight.
The three steps of traditional treatment.
With any luck, over-the-counter pain medications and an avoidance of pain-inducing body movements can ease the discomfort from a Herniated Disc with a few days or a few weeks. Cold packs, followed in a few days by gentle heat, can also help.
If that doesn’t work, the next possibilities are cortisone injections or opioid painkiller drugs. Muscle relaxers can be used to ease muscle spasms.
Finally, if nothing else works, surgery can be an option, especially if the person continues to have difficulty standing and walking, or if the Herniated Disc is causing bladder or bowel control issues.
The Regenerative Medicine Approach
Regenerative Medicine is a relatively new and still-developing branch of health care that may offer new promise for back issues such as Herniated Discs.
By utilizing ‘products’ derived from substances produced by the human body, it can offer a more natural type of treatment that doesn’t invite the potential risks of cortisone, prescription painkillers, muscle relaxers, and of course, surgery.
‘Regen Med’ for Herniated Discs
In the case of degradation or ruptures in the disc, a platelet-rich fibrin matrix, combined with packets of proteins known as exosomes, can be injected into back. As well as reducing inflammation, his mixture can help support disc healing, cell regrowth, and even restoration of disc thickness.
The treatment may need to be repeated, to continue to control inflammation and to relieve symptoms while waiting for the body’s own disc-healing mechanisms to kick in within 6 or 9 months.
Also, carefully-planned home exercise or physical therapy, as well as certain lifestyle changes (including weight loss) can be recommended by a doctor to aid healing and prevent future pain flare-ups.