RX-Herniated Disc Sandpoint ID
By Hannah Wallace
Oh, your aching back, you say? You’re not alone. At least 30 percent of otherwise healthy people over 40 have a herniated (also called slipped) disc, making this one of the most common causes of back pain in the US.
The cartilage discs in your back sit between each vertebra, cushioning them. Composed of 80 percent water, they have a jelly-like nucleus surrounded by a tough, fibrous membrane. Although strenuous activity or an accident can cause a herniated disc, often it results simply from aging: The nucleus becomes drier and more brittle with age, making the outer layer more prone to tears. A disc has “herniated” when the nucleus extrudes through one of these holes. It becomes painful if this gelatinous portion hits a nearby nerve.
Before you resort to commonly prescribed cortisone shots or spinal fusion surgery, however, here are two noninvasive options to aid your back and mitigate the pain.
• Hang upside-down
Sure, it’s a fun pastime for Batman, but what can it do for the rest of us? Actually, using an inversion table can help muscles relax, increase the space between the vertebrae, and ease lower back pain, according to Carol Davis, EdD, a physical therapist at the University of Miami. Inverting, says Davis, takes the pressure off the herniated disc, reduces swelling, and allows the surrounding inflamed nerves and tissues to heal.
Davis recommends three five-minute sessions a day on an inversion table. While you can buy a table and invert in your own home, it’s best to check with your doctor and try it first under the watchful eye of a licensed physical therapist.
• The Sacro Wedgy
Another solution to your lower back pain could involve a $30 pink plastic device that you place under your sacrum (the lowest portion of your spine) for 20 minutes each day. The Sacro Wedgy was invented by a football and track coach with a background in kinesiology, who found that balancing an athlete’s sacrum with his hand would decrease both lower back pain and piriformis syndrome (a spasming of the deep rotator muscle, often a result of a herniated disc).
Like inversion tables, the Sacro Wedgy uses gravity to give the body “natural” traction. Only, in this case, the Wedgy isolates the sacrum—holding it in a neutral position—so that the hips can drop, relax, and release.
Mya Breman, a craniosacral therapist at the Upledger Institute in Palm Beach, Florida, is a devoted Wedgy fan. “It’s brilliant,” she says. “It holds the sacrum like an anchor, so your hips can spread out on either side of you. It releases all the nerves and then all the muscles that affect the pain. Everything else can just let go.” Learn more: www.sacrowedgy.com
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