What is a Disc?
The Spine is made up of the vertebrae (the bones making up the Spine), which have cartilage discs between them. The discs consist of a circle of connective tissue with a central gel-like core. This makes the spine flexible and at the same time acts as a protective buffer.
In the centre of this column of vertebrae and discs is the spinal canal, which contains the spinal cord and it continues as a bundle of nerve fibres called the cauda equina stretching down towards the sacrum. Between each vertebra, the spinal cord has nerve root connections to other parts of the body.
The Spine is divided into three parts:
Neck (Cervical Vertebrae)
Chest (Thoracic Vertebrae)
The Lower Back (Lumbar Vertebrae).
The Spine is connected to the ribs at the chest.
What is a Slipped Disc?
A slipped disc is when the soft part of the disc bulges through the circle of connective tissue. This prolapse may push on the spinal cord or on the nerve roots. However, it is worth noting that 20 per cent of the population have slipped discs without experiencing any noticeable symptoms.
The term 'slipped disc' does not really describe the process properly - the disc does not actually slip out of place, but bulges out towards the spinal cord.
What is the cause of a Slipped Disc?
Many factors increase the risk for slipped disc: (1) lifestyle choices such as tobacco use, lack of regular exercise, and inadequate nutrition substantially contribute to poor disc health. (2) As the body ages, natural biochemical changes cause discs to gradually dry out affecting disc strength and resiliency. (3) Poor posture combined with the habitual use of incorrect body mechanics, hard physical labour(delivery) can place additional stress on the spine.
Combine these factors with the effects from daily wear and tear, injury, incorrect lifting, or twisting and it is easy to understand why a disc may herniate. A herniation may develop suddenly or gradually over weeks or months.
At what age can a Slipped Disc occur?
A slipped disc in the lower back is most often seen between the ages of 30 and 50. In the cervical vertebrae around the neck, slipped discs are most often seen between the ages of 40 and 60.
A slipped disc occurs most often in the lumbar region of the spine especially at the L4-L5 and L5-S1 levels (L = Lumbar, S = Sacral). This is because the lumbar spine carries most of the body's weight. People between the ages of 30 and 50 appear to be vulnerable because the elasticity and water content of the nucleus decreases with age.
What are the Symptoms of a Slipped Disc?
A slipped disc can be symptom free. If it causes pain, it is primarily due to the pressure on the nerve roots, the spinal cord or the cauda equina.
Symptoms of Nerve Root Pressure:
Paralysis of single muscles, possibly with pain radiating to the arms or legs. There may also be a disturbance of feeling in the limbs.
Symptoms of Pressure on the Spinal Cord:
Disturbance of feeling, muscle spasms or paralysis in the part of the body below the spinal cord pressure. For example, pressure on the spinal cord in the chest area will cause spasms in the legs but not in the arms. Pressure on the spinal cord may cause problems with control of the bladder.
Symptoms of Pressure on the Cauda Equina:
The symptoms can include loss of control of the bladder function, disturbance of feeling in the rectum and the inside of the thighs and paralysis of both legs. These are serious symptoms and anyone developing them should contact a doctor immediately.
What happens in an Ayurvedic session?
The initial consultation involves taking the total health history of the patient. A visual analyze is carried out by examining the eyes, color of the tongue, nails, skin, etc. Once the verbal and visual analyze are completed, further investigation involves examining the tender points (marma points). Focusing on these marma points the ayurvedic physician discovers the malfunctioning of the organs.
Based on these investigations, a final picture is drawn about the patient's condition in relation to the three biochemical forces; vata pitta kapha. The dis-alignment of spinal vertebrae and musculo skeletal system is mainly concentrated and special attention is paid to the patient's food habits and life style. With full history and investigation the ayurvedic physician determines the amount of treatment required. Usually the treatment period is 7/14/21/28 days according to the severity of the disease.
The Treatment usually involves a series of ABHYANGAM, SWEDAM, NASYAM, ELAKIZHI, NAVARAKIZHI, KATI VASTHI, KASHAYA VASTHI & ANUVASANA VASTHI etc. Marma chikitsa, Meru Chikitsa (Ayurvedic Neuro-Therapy) along with Vatahara chikitsa and Brumhana chikitsa are given utmost importance.
In four to six weeks, the majority of patients find their symptoms are relieved without surgery! Be optimistic about your treatment plan and remember that less than 5% of back problems require surgery!
Aging is inevitable, but lifestyle changes can help prevent the disc disease. Risk factors include poor posture and body mechanics, weak Spinal muscles, smoking and obesity. Start now to adopt habits that will help preserve your spine for the future.
If you have Slipped Disc & are suffering, don’t get worried. HELP IS HERE… Come to AYURVEDA for better relief.