The back pain started after a horse riding accident. I fell off and landed on some rocks. One of them caused a crack in the helmet and another started a whole host of back problems.
What is a slipped disc?
While the term “slipped disc” is commonly used, it is incorrect. It’s a herniated disc. The vertebrae in the spinal column are cushioned by discs, made in part of cartilage. These cushions keep the bones of the spine from rubbing against each other. If the disc moves out of place, several painful problems can develop.
What can happen with a herniated disc?
The bones of the vertebrae may start to rub against each other. This can cause arthritis and possibly bone spurs. The disc may start to press on the nerves associated with the spine, including the spinal cord. It can also press on the sciatic nerve, causing sciatica.
The pain from sciatica is hard to explain unless you’ve had it. It starts in the back, but it can radiate after the branch off down both hips and even both legs. Sometimes one side is affected more than the other. For me, on a pain scale of one meaning “I’m fine” to ten meaning “giving birth,” it’s about a nine.
The pain often starts at a low level. In most attacks I’ve experienced, the first twenty-four hours is usually rather moderate. The next two or three days are really bad, then is slowly fades into the background.
What can I do to ease the pain?
There are things that can be done. The plan I’m following has been approved by my doctor, and I highly recommend that you discuss any treatment with your own doctor. The methods employed are:
Ice packs: This is one of the few times when you should choose whichever feels better; heat or ice. For me, it’s ice.
Topical pain relievers: As a master herbalist, I make mine. There are several on the market that are useful. If you choose one that has capsaicin in it, test it on a small area first. It can cause burns.
Anti-inflammatory medications: When the pain is minor, over the counter pain medications are fine. If the pain interferes with your life, you may need something stronger. This is another matter to discuss with your doctor.
Physical therapy: I employ aquatic PT, but there are other types. A good therapist can teach you the exercises so you can practice them at home or at a gym.
Sciatica is painful, but it can be treated. Talk to your doctor and come up with a plan that fits your needs. It really helps.