A herniated disc requires regular treatments to relieve pain and reduce the pressure on the spine associated with slipped discs. Before you can begin any type of treatment you will first need an accurate diagnosis to make sure your treatments focus on both the symptoms as well as the underlying causes.
Many times the diagnosis is based only on the symptoms of which the patient is aware of, which is unfortunate because some symptoms we have simply grown accustomed to and therefore no longer consider them ‘symptoms’ but rather something we just endure. A flawed diagnosis can lead to ineffective treatments that only solve part of the problem, which can lead to even worse problems in the back.
Understanding A Herniated Disc
A herniated disc occurs when one of the discs between the bones in your spine has slipped or ruptured. These discs are soft in the very center and sheltered by a harder exterior for protection. A disc becomes herniated when the liquid inside begins to seep out.
When the discs rupture or slip, they can cause pain, muscle weakness and in some instances numbness. The difficulty in diagnosing and treating a herniated disc is that not all sufferers exhibit symptoms. Because of this patients without symptoms are often given generic treatment plans that don’t work.
One of the least invasive treatments for a herniated disc is inversion therapy because it provides direct relief to the affected area. Patients are turning more frequently to inversion therapy because it provides longer relief than over the counter or prescription pain killers and anti-inflammatory medications. Chemical treatments only relieve pain and swelling without addressing how to fix the problem of the herniated disc.
Inversion therapy–also known as traction–involves hanging the patient upside down or at an angle in order to let gravity work to increase the space between the vertebra. By separating the vertebra, inversion therapy relieves the pressure off the nerve roots as well as the spinal discs. Ongoing spinal traction has been known to cause a mild suction to develop in the disc, which can encourage the disc to return to its proper position.
There are added benefits to inversion therapy that include eliminating waste from the injured disc and increasing circulation to the discs. These benefits relieve pain, while the act itself attempts to reverse the ruptured discs.
Does It Work?
Since very few physicians and physical therapists give patients the option of inversion therapy, many assume this is an ineffective method of treatment. That could not be further from the truth; in fact many in the medical community recommend several session, spread out over time, to begin the process of dissolving bulged discs.
Since inversion therapy tables are readily available for individual purchase many back pain sufferers and those with a herniated disc are taking matters into their own hand. While this can be effective under the care of a back pain specialist, many patients do more damage by spending too much time on an inversion therapy table. Many patients put themselves in traction more than the recommended two or three times each day, for short periods of time. Anything more than this can lead to problems, particularly for those suffering from heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Perhaps the biggest drawback of inversion therapy is that very few studies have backed up its efficacy for long-term healing. But as part of a comprehensive treatment plan, inversion therapy allows the back to be pain-free enough to engage in other forms of physical therapy.
Inversion therapy has proven effective for treating a herniated disc, but it alone will not get the job done. Ask your physical therapist what is the best multi-faceted approach to treat a herniated disc.
Written By: Updated: December 13,2007