My recent 8-day trip to Kerala was enjoyable, as usual, till I suddenly developed a rather severe pain in the lower back. Like a fool I tried to manage it by applying some painkilling gel to the affected area and went to a specialist only after returning to Chennai yesterday. He confirmed that the problem was Slipped Disc, which is also known as Prolapsed Disc. I decided to write about because somebody might find it useful.
Now, the disc in this context is padding between the vertebrae that encase the spine. It is a cartilage with a gel-like core of connective tissue in the centre. It is a protective buffer and provides flexibility to the spine. Sometimes, with aging, the connective tissues in the core break down and results in bulging. The condition is neither slipping of the disc nor infection. Incorrect posture particularly while lifting weight can trigger off an attack of pain. It seems that in 20% of the cases no outward symptoms are noticeable.
Usually the doctors approach a case of slipped disc conservatively. Surgery is only rarely resorted to. The treatment is a course of medication, mostly painkillers and bed rest. In my case the doctor has not recommended traction. After four days of medication I have to undergo physiotherapy.
The diagnostic procedure normally involves a scan. I think the doctor’s clinical judgment is sufficient but the scan is done to protect the doctor from legal problems that may sometimes come up. In my case the doctor asked me whether I want a scan done immediately or wait and watch for a week. I decided to wait.
It seems that taking painkiller tablets only when a bout of pain comes is not advisable. It is better to have them at regular prescribed intervals. Avoid bending down and awkward postures. If you need to pick something from the floor, ask someone else to do that for you or do it yourself by bending at the knees. No sitting at one stretch for more than thirty minutes. I am typing this post with a break in between writing. Don’t lift weights. To prevent recurring bouts of slipped disc, regular walking is recommended.
You must please appreciate that this is only a layman’s understanding of the Slipped Disc problem. It is always safer to consult a specialist.