The discs are the shock absorbers of the spine. They are pieces of cartilage which separate different vertebrae from each other and it also helps to cushion them. The discs have a soft pulpy centre, which may bulge or burst out through the tough outer portion and irritate adjacent ligaments or a nerve root. This is what is called a disc prolapse or a slipped disc. It can result from strenuous activity, especially if the activity is sudden, like lifting something heavy or twisting something around violently. In most cases, the development of a disc prolapse is gradual, and it is prevalent more often between the ages of 20 and 50.
A disc prolapse involves an agonizing back pain of a sudden onset. It restricts back movements and may even cause a sharp, shooting and electric-like pain that goes down to the legs. It can also cause a numbness and a tingling sensation in the affected leg or foot.
Do’s and Don’ts
As a disc prolapse is a very serious injury, one should exercise sufficient care while performing any physical activity. You should refrain from lifting very heavy objects by bending at the waist. It is always better to kneel down or flex the knees and keep your back straight while bending to lift something. You should also avoid sudden, jerky, twisting back movements as in over-reaching, tennis playing, and so on. It would help if you reduce your bodyweight as it puts a strain on your back muscles/ligaments. Regular exercise is always helpful to not just avoid injuries, but also for the back to regain muscle tone. You should also improve your posture, avoiding the slouched posture with head down, shoulders stooped and tense. The balance of the head on top of the spine should constantly be maintained. When you sleep, make sure that you do not sleep on a mattress that sags, but on a firm and flatbed. Use a hot water bottle or a heat lamp to give heat when in pain. Take care to not overstrain yourselves or exercise if the pain is severe. Take complete rest and wait for the pain to abate. When taking medicines, never take more than the manufacturer-recommended dose of
painkillers. If you experience sharp, shooting pains down the legs, it is best that you consult a doctor. Also, the doctor’s advice would be quintessential before you start any exercise regime.