Low back pain? Trouble changing position? Hurts to get out of bed? Sounds like a possible low back or disc strain.
This is a VERY common injury for all doctors. In fact, the Red Cross estimates that approx. 90% of ALL people will have some type of
low back injury (most often some degree of disc injury) at least once in their lives – that’s about everyone, so pay attention!
The discs are the shock absorbers and more importantly the spacers in our spinal column. They space out the vertebrae so that nerves can run to and from the spinal cord in order to ensure that our brain knows what’s happening all over our bodies. These nerves are responsible to our movement,
our cell reproduction, our touch and temperature sensations and as many of you know who have experienced it, our PAIN sensation.
What happens when a disc is herniated is that some of the tough outer covering (the annular fibers) are torn and this allows the jelly-like material in the inside (the nucleus pulposus) to ooze out. Unfortunately, as far as pain goes, these feel horrible and you will almost always experience severe muscle spasm.
DISC TORSION (strain)
The good news is that most injuries aren't this variety, most are grades 1 or 2, what we would call "DISC TORSION."
The symptoms are as follows:
Some pain (sometimes a lot of pain)
Tough to get out of bed or change position
Coughing and sneezing may hurt
Moderate to severe spasm (locking up) of the muscles on both sides of the lower spine
Muscle weakness, usually very slight on one side and you may notice different sensation on one side than the other
The vast majority of these types of injuries are very treatable but will take a little time.
You see, with these injuries, it's not the bulging of the middle on the nerves as much as it is the inflammation around the injury that causes the pain. That's why anti-inflammatory medication seems to help for a large number of people and why ICE, not Heat, will work much better, also speeding the healing process up. Let me repeat: ICE, not heat. These are inflammatory conditions, and initially, stretch, massage, and heat will bring more inflammation to the area. Have you tried the hot shower? Yeah, feels good right away but 10 minutes later, watch out!
At Armadillo Sport Chiropractic, we feel this is probably THE most mis-treated condition we see. You will have a lot of muscle spasm and because of this, most doctors, therapists and chiropractors as well as helpful friends and family recommend heat, stretch and massage.
Realize, the muscles are spasmed only to protect the back/neck - they will relax when the inflammation part of the injury is gone. How long does that take? usually 1 week or more - I would personally not suggest any heat until you have had 3 good days in a row!
ICE ICE BABY!
At this office we see low back pain a lot, and we see a lot of disc injuries that we usually call disc torsion because of the way the disc was strained
and injured. As with any competent doctor we examine the patient and injury to best access the situation and will send any patients out for MRI's
if we're not sure how severe the injury is. Most disc injuries are treatable and the patient will respond quickly if the treatment is done correctly. By taking strain off the opposing muscles and joints without further stressing the joint and eliminating inflammation, we are often able to significantly alleviate the pain and the problem and get you back to whatever you love to do quickly.
While this condition is in the inflammatory stage – we prefer you don’t do activities to the area that increase the inflammation and bring more blood to the area. Typically recommending NO massage, NO to very little stretching, and NO heavy load especially with bent and twisted positions.
Cat/Cow exercises such as these increase fluid levels to the disc and rid waste product are our only recommendations for the next few days – 2 to 3 slow sets, 10 sec. up and down.
Something else important to know about these conditions is that they almost never respond by feeling better and better each day. Recall when you have sprained an ankle in the past. Each day seems to feel a little better, like a stair step progression of pain.
Disc injuries don’t respond like this. They have huge waves of up and down pain where at times you will feel almost completely healed and then may get hit hard and feel bad again. This can happen even in the course of a single day, so be ready for it. The pain and spasm with these issues can be severe, but feel comfortable that this is a small and easy issue and will go away. The pain is not a good indicator of the severity of the issue.
Treat the issue as an inflammatory one and let us know how you are responding. Usually MRI is needed only if the issue becomes much worse or if you are not responding in the matter of a couple weeks.