Taking care of our bodies for the long-term is an investment. As we age, it’s common to become more fragile, less flexible and more prone to injury. But injury does not have to be inevitable.
Although the term “herniated disc” is often used in self-diagnosis, it may not always be the source of your back pain. A true disc herniation is often a result of gradual wear and tear as a result of aging. As we age, spinal discs lose their water content and flexibility. This makes even a small strain or twist an opportunity for the discs to rupture or tear.
Where is the pain?
Although a herniated disc is located in your back, you will typically feel the resulting pain in your arms or legs. Pain in your thigh, calf and even down to your foot could be a result of a herniated disc in your lower back. A herniated disc in your neck would reveal itself through pain in your shoulder and arm. This type of chronic pain can occur even when small motions are made such as coughing, sneezing, or moving into a certain position. Numbness and tingling is also common in the affected areas. The nerves surrounding the disc may also weaken and result in impairment of your ability to lift or hold items. Lifestyle choices can be made to consciously care for your spine and prevent the wear and tear that results in chronic pain.
Lift with intention
“Lift with your legs” is a common mantra that we hear when lifting a heavy load. It is easy to make the mistake of bending at the waist to pick up a heavy object. But whether it’s a bag of groceries or a piece of furniture, poor lifting techniques can leave you with long-term pain.
Practice your posture
As we spend more and more time at our desks, hunched over smartphones and in front of TV’s, American postures have suffered. Good posture doesn’t only require strength in your back, but also a strong core to hold your body up. Your “at ease” posture should have your shoulders back, abdomen in, and the small of your back flat. Making time to stretch if you are sedentary for long periods of time is also an important component to keeping your back strong and flexible to reduce the risk of injury.
Not all exercise is created equal
A strong core can be overlooked for those looking to prevent injury. Choosing exercises that build muscles in not only your back, but your legs and stomach puts you in a much better position to be safeguarded against a herniated disc, or any other preventable back injuries. Ideal types of exercise for long-term injury prevention includes a balance of flexibility, strength training and regular aerobic exercise. Maintaining a healthy weight is another essential component of chronic pain prevention, so consistent, low-impact exercise that maintains a healthy weight is one of the top ways to prevent injury.
Pain management solutions are available
The good news is that pain from most herniated discs will resolve themselves within 4-6 weeks with rest. But if you find your pain increases or is still present after that time, working with a qualified pain specialist to address the issue will present a few more options.
One of the top solutions for herniated disc pain would be an Epidural Steroid Injection. This minimally invasive treatment relieves the pain of inflamed nerves with a potent anti-inflammatory medication that breaks the pain cycle at the nerve root or spinal cord. Most people find almost immediate pain relief, resulting in you returning to your normal routine, including exercise.
You may have been hearing a lot about the collagen craze in the wellness space a lot lately. It’s for good reason. Collagen provides the structure to keep your bones strong, your skin structured and your joints well protected. Advances in pain management therapies have taken on a whole new life to unlock the regenerative potential of the human body. Amniotic Allograft Injections are another option for those suffering from herniated disc pain. Not only does this solution reduce the chronic inflammation to the afflicted area, it also increases soft tissue repair and reconstruction to aid against future injury.
We know that a herniated disc is a result of a degradation of the supporting tissues around your spinal discs. Your body produces a compound known as Alpha-2-Macroglubulin that assists in regulating your body’s response to inflammation. However, in areas like your spine, this compound can stop responding and lead to chronic inflammation and the breakdown of tissue. If you’ve found that your body is not responding to other pain management techniques, then an Alpha-2-Macroglubulin Injection (A2M) is another alternative to alleviate the pain from a herniated disc.
Chronic pain can be a drain on your day-to-day life. But making small, conscious adjustments to your daily routine can be the difference between a pain-free day or a day on bed rest. However, not all injury is preventable. Having a team of qualified pain management specialists on your side is an essential resource for a life relieved of chronic pain.
Dr. Alex Bigham is the owner and CEO of Novocur Pain Management Clinics and has over 18 years of healthcare experience in private practice and Ambulatory Surgical Center settings. Novocur offers advanced treatment options in a concierge type practice without the concierge price tag. Dr. Bigham appears frequently on local TV and radio programs to discuss the latest in Pain Management or related health topics.
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