The discs of the spine are cushions that separate the vertebrae (bones of the spine). I like to refer to them as jelly doughnuts, because they are made up of a firm outer layer, and a jelly center.
One of the things that makes healing a herniated disc very tricky is the fact that the discs of the spine do not have a very good blood supply.
This creates a problem, because blood is usually what the body uses in order to transport nutrition and oxygen to the different parts of the body in order to promote healing.
Because the discs do not receive a lot of blood, they usually take quite a long time to heal. However, the cause of the pain you are experiencing is not the disc itself it is actually the nerve of the spine that is being pinched by the herniated disc.
A herniated disc occurs when the thick outer covering of the disc tears, and the jelly in the center starts to push through the tears. This creates a bulge in the disc.
Unfortunately, the nerves of the spine, which control everything in the body, will usually exit the spine right where the disc will tend to bulge. The symptoms you experience will depend on which nerves are being affected by the herniated disc.
For example, if your herniated disc is in your low back, you will likely experience back pain, leg pain, leg weakness, numbness, burning, problems with your bowel and bladder, etc. (This can be indicative of Cauda equina syndrome, which is a medical emergency. Failure to decompress the nerves may result in permanent incontinence or permanent loss of sexual function. Any hint of these symptoms necessitates an immediate trip to the emergency room.)
So, even though the problem is in the low back, you may have a number of other symptoms in other parts of the body, simply because the affected nerve travels and will cause problems wherever the nerve goes to.
So, what can you do about this problem? Well, most doctors would recommend medications, pain injections (steroids and epidurals, which numb the problem area), physical therapy, and surgery (as a last resort).
The first thing I would recommend you do is to use ice. Now, I realize that this may seem pretty simple, but I can't even tell you the number of times I've met people who are using heat to treat their herniated disc pain, which is one of the worst things you can do with this condition!
If you've used ice, and felt it didn't help, I would recommend you read this section anyway, because I've found that if you don't follow the rules I teach you, it won't be as effective. Many people find that they've actually been doing something wrong with the ice, which is why it wasn't working previously.
The purpose of ice is to reduce swelling around the aggravated nerve, reduce inflammation, and numb the nerve so it feels better.
Consistency is key here! You have to repeat the ice treatment every hour in order to see results. You will typically start to notice a difference after 3 or 4 ice treatments, but it will usually take 3 full days of using ice to feel a big difference.
The second tip I have for you is to use a gel called Biofreeze. Biofreeze is a prescription-strength pain-relieving gel that can be found online or in most chiropractic clinics. Some physical therapy clinics also sell Biofreeze.
Biofreeze has an herbal remedy in it called Ilex, which reduces inflammation, swelling, and calms painful nerves. It usually provides about 4 - 5 hours of relief, which is really good for a lot of people experiencing herniated disc pain!
Simply apply the gel on the skin over the injured disc, as well as wherever you are experiencing pain.
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