Slipped Disc - Pinched Nerve
You have a "slipped disc and pinched nerve", five words that will ring in my brain for a long time! I'd never even had a back ache until that fateful day. I've been gardening as long as I can remember, but that day a sharp pain in my back when I pulled a few weeds changed everything.
I knew I'd done something to my back so, after my granddaughter helped me up off the ground, I sat in my recliner for two days doing nothing. Third day - fine. Fourth day I woke up at 5:00 a.m. with such pain in my left leg I could hardly bear it. My husband took me to a "Care One" facility where a foreign doctor gave me a narcotic to help the pain. I guess that was his idea of a cure.
I was up all night with the pain. At 6:00 a.m. the next morning my husband came downstairs all dressed and said we're going to the hospital. The ER staff were helpful but sent me home with more narcotics. The pain increased to the point where I couldn't walk and talk at the same time. My neighbor called an ambulance and back to the hospital I went. This time they kept me. They did a CAT Scan (because you can't do an MRI on a weekend) and hooked me up to some intravenous narcotics that at least stopped the pain.
On Monday morning I had that MRI which showed my slipped disc at L4 was causing a pinched nerve affecting my left leg, ergo the pain. I was in the hospital for three days but had to be sent home because MEDICARE would not cover a longer hospital stay. I was discharged with more narcotics and other medication to help with the swelling, and an appointment with a doctor whose specialty is pain management.
When I went to the doctor, using a walker to try to walk, he told me I needed an injection in my back, in my spine to be exact. Got the injection, no relief. A week later he gave me the second injection. I spent about six weeks in bed, in pain, but the second injection finally began to help (I guess the swelling went down too). Now I was able to walk with just a cane and the pain was bearable. Next, began physical therapy. As I write this I am still in physical therapy but can walk without a cane and the pain is minimal and occasional.
I had never had a back ache and here I was at the top of the pain ladder! A rude awakening to the world of back pain.
Back Pain Statistics
- OrthoInfo a website of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, explains that a slipped disc is sometimes called a ruptured disc or a herniated disc.
- OrthoInfo also states between 60% and 80% of people will suffer from low back pain.
- In an article by Move Forward, a Physical Therapy Guide to Herniated Disc, it states, as many as 75% of us will have some form of back or neck pain at some point in our lifetime.
- That same article states, "If you have a herniated disk in the lumbar spine, you may have pain, tingling, numbness, weakness, or any combination of these symptoms in the back, buttocks, or legs; most likely, your symptoms will be on only one side of your body."
- Discs are soft pads between the vertebrae (bones in the spine) that act as shock absorbers for the spine.
- Discs don't really "slip" but can move, split or rupture.
- Steroid injections to the spine are a common treatment for disc injury.
- The National Spine & Pain Center website states that "Up to 90 percent of patients with herniated discs can be successfully treated without surgery."
How About You?
Have you ever suffered from severe back pain?
Herniated Disc Surgeries
Back Pain, What Causes it and How to Treat It
Obviously you know a herniated/slipped disc causes back pain if you've read this far. What causes these problems with discs? I hate to blame everything on age, but age does play in here. As we age and things break down, discs are among those things. One name for this aging phenomenon is degenerative disc disease and it is one cause of herniated discs. Back injury can of course cause damage to the disc but sometimes something as simple as turning the wrong way can do it too.
Pain from the sciatic nerve is also a common back problem. This large nerve goes through the pelvis and into each buttocks. If there are no serious underlying issues it is said sciatic pain usually goes away within six weeks. As with other back pain, symptoms may come and go.
Muscular strain, curvature of the spine also known as scoliosis, arthritis, pregnancy, and kidney stones, are some of the causes of back pain. Oh, I shouldn't leave out genetics.
Did you know one of the worst things for your back is to sit! Yes, sitting. When you sit your spine compresses which affects your discs. If you must sit for long periods, take time to stand or walk around. On long car trips, stop. Get out and walk around. The best positions for your back are standing or lying down. Webmd tells us "The discs in your spine are nourished by motion". Be careful how you lift. You can lift heavy objects but lift them correctly, use your legs not your back.
Regular exercise is good for your back. Start gentle and gradual and as you build up your back will too. It must be regular exercise though, just weekends won't help build up your stamina and/or your back's. Did you know strong abs help your back too? Now's a good time to throw in weight. Being overweight can affect your back.
The question of mattresses is a complicated one. While some people benefit from a firm mattress, others do better with a medium mattress. You have to work it out for yourself depending on your sleep habits.
Ice is great for back pain because it reduces swelling. I know many people recommend heat but oh the relief from that ice is glorious!
Take care of your back!
- Regular exercise
- Strengthen your core
- Lose weight - excess weight that is
- Lift "with your legs" - bend your knees and hips, not your back
- Wear supportive shoes
- Sleep on your back
- Rest when you have back pain
- Don't sit for long periods of time
- Stop smoking...I know it seems smoking is blamed for everything, but it is! Smoking can cause your back and spine to age faster than it normally would.
- STAY ACTIVE
Does all of this mean you'll never have back pain? No, but it can alleviate it if it does appear. I can guarantee I will not pull weeds and twist my back in one motion!
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