What is Slip Disc?
Slip disc or herniated disc or disc prolapse occurs when the soft inner layer within the discs in the spinal column protrude out causing severe pain and in some cases immobility.
Spinal column and Slip discs
Spinal column also called vertebral column or backbone provides main support to the human body. This helps in standing erect, bending etc. and also provides protective covering for the spinal cord.
This spinal column is made up of a number of bones or vertebras which are stacked on each other. The entire column is split into five regions –
Cervical region which supports the neck and has 7 vertebras numbered from C1 to C7, Thoracic region which supports the ribs, heart and lungs and has 11 vertebras numbered from T1 to T12
Lumbar region which supports the lower back and has 5 vertebras numbered from L1 to L5
Sacrum region which connects the spine to the hip and has 5 vertebras fused together
Coccyx region which connects to the pelvic floor and 4 vertebras fused together
These vertebrae are separated from each other by disks which act as shock absorbers and prevent friction across the bones. These disks have a hard-outer layer and a soft inside jelly like section. Weakness in the spine, advancing age and some injuries can all cause this soft jelly inner layer to extend out through cracks in the outer section. This protrusion or disc rupture is called herniated disk or slip disc or disc prolapse. Slip discs will increase the friction between the nearby bones causing tremendous pain and at times can even impact movement of the body making the person bed ridden.
Symptoms of Slip Disc:
While a slip disc can occur anywhere between the neck and the lower back, it occurs mostly in the lower back area. Common symptoms of herniated or slip disc are
Pain in the legs, buttocks and thigh if the slip disc is in the lumbar region or pain in the arms and shoulder if it is in the cervical region
Tingling sensation, numbness in the affected areas
Muscle weakness which can be felt while lifting objects
Pain due to slip discs generally worsen at night and can be aggravated by certain movements in the affected areas.
Slip Disc Causes and Risk factors:
Advancing age can make the discs to lose the water content in its inner layer which in turn causes ruptures in the disc. Heavy weight lifting, improper posture, sedentary lifestyles can all cause sudden impact or muscle weaknesses which can also cause disc herniation. People with excessive body weight are more prone to have slip discs than others.
Slip discs, if not diagnosed and treated in time, can cause incontinence and can also lead to other complications like sciatica.
Slip Disc Diagnosis
Doctors can typically find out about slip discs during a personal examination and by checking the medical history. In some cases, diagnostic tests like CT scan and MRIs may be required to identify the herniated discs. X-rays are also used sometimes to rule out occurrence of other complications.
Slip Disc treatment:
If it is in the initial stages, doctors would generally ask the patient to avoid certain body postures and positions and to do light exercises. Pain and other symptoms may subside in many people by following these procedures. Medications including pain killers, muscle relaxants and cortisone injections may be prescribed in other cases. Some of these medications are known to have side effects which leads to other serious complications.
In rare cases, doctors may advise surgery. Surgical options include microdiscectomy where the damaged portion of the disc is removed or even laminectomy where the entire lamina is removed and also spinal fusion surgery to restore stability in the spine.
Slip disc treatment in Ayurveda:
Ayurveda views slip disc or herniated disc as a vata disorder. As per Ayurveda, all three doshas (Vata which governs the air and movement within the body, Pitta which controls metabolism and digestion and Kapha which provides the lubrication and nourishment of cells) should be in equilibrium for a person to be healthy. Vata aggravation due to increasing age and also improper diet and movements causes water content to recede within the discs. This results in herniated or slip disc.
There are highly effective Ayurvedic treatment for disc prolapse (slip disc or herniated disc) which are completely non-surgical and are based on herbal medications. Treatment procedures include swedam, vasthi, Pizhichil, kizhi etc. Exact treatment plan for herniated disk or slip disc will be finalized by the doctor only after personal consultation. Typical Ayurvedic treatment for slip disc is around 21-28 days of inpatient treatment in the hospital. Herniated disc treatment in Ayurveda will be between 1,300 to 3,800 USD. Cost will vary based on the duration of treatment, type of hospital and also the type of room chosen