Back pain can be very difficult to cope with and can make everyday activities very painful, almost intolerable. One very common cause of back pain is a herniated disk. The spine is made up of bones that are protected and cushioned by oval pads of cartilage, the disks, which have a tough outer layer and soft inner layer.
When a disk is herniated, the soft part pushes through a tear in the outer layer and into the spinal canal, which causes irritation to the nerves and can lead to pain and weakness in the back, sometimes even spreading to the extremities. Surgery for this problem is usually not necessary, and most times it can be treated at home.
If the back pain is truly disabling and it lasts consistently for over a week, it is best to see a doctor. Also, if the person is able to function for three weeks but the pain is not subsiding, then it would also be good to see a doctor. If the pain gets worse when the person is sitting, coughing or sneezing, then it is probably a herniated disk that is bothering the person.
If a person loses control of the bladder or bowels or if numbness develops in the legs, then a doctor should be called immediately.
For herniated disks that are not that serious, there are conservative treatments that can work me helping with the problem. It is best to limit one’s activity and to apply cold or heat to the back. Careful exercises to build the strength of the back muscles are also important. With these exercises, not only does the back get stronger, it becomes more flexible as well.
One exercise is performing the so-called bridge position. In this exercise, the person lies on their back with their knees bent. It is important to keep the back in a neutral position and to not arch it or press it against the floor too much. The hips should not be tilted either. Now cough to activate the main muscles and then hold the contracted abdominal muscles and raise the hips off the floor. Once they are raised, align them with the knees and shoulders and then hold the position and take deep breaths before returning to the start position.
There are other ways to treat the back problems like applying cold or hot wraps to the back, getting a lot rest, avoiding activities that hurt or strain the back, and stretching the back muscles regularly, for example.