Have you ever experienced a sharp, shooting pain in your back that seems to radiate down your leg, neck, and other body parts? If so, you may have a prolapsed disc. This condition is relatively common, especially among adults aged 30-50.
Although a prolapsed disc can be extremely painful and debilitating, there are several things you can do to relieve the pain and improve your condition.
In this blog post, we'll explore what a prolapsed disc is, what causes it, and also share some of the best tips for dealing with it. From sleeping posture to optimizing the way you sit and move around your workstation, there's something here for everyone.
But always remember to check with your doctor before beginning any new treatment program.
What Are the Signs of a Prolapsed Disk?
Your backbone (spine) is a collection of 33 smaller bones (vertebrae) neatly stalked. These bones have protective cushioning tissue, which reduces friction and allows you to make various back movements.
A prolapsed disc, also known as a herniated disc, is a condition in which the cushioning tissue between the spine's bones becomes damaged, pushed out of place, or compromised in some way.
This can lead to major friction and pain as the vertebrae come into contact with each other, and movement becomes limited. The leading causes of a prolapsed disc are improper lifting or movement, pregnancy, excessive sitting or standing, and aging.
If left untreated, this condition can become chronic and cause further damage to surrounding tissues and structures.
Symptoms of a Prolapsed Disk
The most apparent sign of a prolapsed disk is back pain, but you may also experience the following issues:
Myasthenia (weakening muscles)
Tightness or pains in the neck
Tingling or muscle spasms in the limbs, back, or shoulders
Sports and exercise-related injuries
The pains worsen in cold weather or at night
Upper body pains after walking short distances
Increased difficulty when bending or straightening your posture
What If You Take Too Long to Treat a Prolapsed Disk?
If you notice the symptoms of a prolapsed disk and take too long to seek out medical help, the situation could begin to worsen and become more serious. For example, it may lead to further complications, e.g., sciatica.
Sciatica occurs when there is irritation or pressure on the Sciatic nerve. This can cause shooting pains, numbness, or muscle spasms down your lower back. You can also experience coldness and pain on the soles of your feet and the back side of your legs. People often develop sciatica when they take too long to deal with a prolapsed disk.
If your disk becomes severely compressed or inflamed, it could lead to nerve damage, muscle loss, or even paralysis. In addition, there are situations where the disk could rupture, causing bowel or bladder control loss.
If you wait too long to seek treatment, your prolapsed disk may fail to heal on its own. Instead, it may require surgery or other invasive treatments in order to be fully resolved. That is why it pays to get an MRI scan and timely clinical intervention – Most cases can be remedied in 2 to 3 weeks if caught early.
Things to Avoid If You Suspect You Have a Prolapsed Disk
People over 30 years old are the most prone to a prolapsed disk. Your spine has had years of wear and tear at such an age. This fractures the cushioning layer making it less flexible and accommodating to various body postures.
However, while we can't control the natural wear and tear on our bodies that happens with time, there are certain things we can do to help prevent or relieve a prolapsed disk. These include
The toxic chemicals in cigarettes can destroy the tiny blood vessels within your back muscles and discs, damaging arteries and veins in these critical areas. Over time, this damage may cause pain and injury to your back.
Smoking has also been shown to weaken the bones over time and make you more susceptible to diseases like osteoporosis which in turn can exacerbate your existing symptoms.
Sitting for Extended Periods
Your lower back carries all the upper body and weight when you sit. The longer you stay at your desk, the more likely you are to lean, slouch or sit in a posture that harms your back - getting up once in a while helps.
Try to get up from your desk regularly and take short breaks throughout the day. By changing positions every now and then, you give your lower back a chance to realign and recover from any compression or stress it may be experiencing.
Another helpful tip for people with a prolapsed disk is to consider getting a height-adjustable desk.
With these types of desks, you can effortlessly adjust the height of your work surface so that it aligns properly with your body while seated and with each position change. In addition, having a height-adjustable desk means that you can alternate between standing and sitting as needed, helping to relieve some strain from your lower back.
Rounds of rapid cardio or weight lifting are good for the mind, body, and soul. However, it may be wise to avoid highly compressive and muscle-flexing workouts – Especially if you have symptoms of a prolapsed disk. This includes routines with too much bending, reaching, jumping, lifting, or rapid repetitions.
Jobs that involve loads of lifting are not the only thing to avoid. You can also slip your disk while mowing, vacuum cleaning, or doing other tasks that require some bending. Such movements also rotate and exert uneven pressure on your disks. This can worsen the problem.
Fortunately, we'll cover some changes you can make to enable you to perform these tasks with a measure of comfort in the next section.
Sitting 'Right' to Relieve a Prolapsed Disk
Sitting for long periods can worsen the symptoms of a prolapsed disk. However, staying parked at your desk can be avoidable for most office workers. But, fret not. You can find relief by switching to a highly adjustable ergonomic office chair.
Such seats feature contorted backrests that allow you to sit naturally. This relieves pressure on the coccyx (tailbone) and lower back, which also helps you cope with flaring sciatica. You can also look at size and aesthetics to find a chair that works for your space.
Below is a checklist for sitting ergonomically that can help relieve a prolapsed disc:
Sit up straight in your chair with your back against the backrest.
Use lumbar support to maintain the natural curve in your lower back.
Add small pillows to your office chair to improve its lumbar support.
Neck and head in a straight line
Adjust the seat height so that your knees are at a 90-degree angle and your thighs are parallel to the floor
You should also ensure your feet touch the floor without putting pressure on the knees and thighs. If they don't reach, use an ergonomic footrest.
Keep your shoulders relaxed with your elbows at a 90-degree angle and rested on the chair's armrest.
Your forearms are parallel to the ground, and your wrists are in a neutral position(floating over the keyboard) as you type or use your mouse.
Position your monitor so that the top of the screen is at eye level or slightly below eye level. The distance between you and your monitor should be about an arm's length, or about 20 to 28. This ensures you can maintain a clear view of the screen without bending, leaning, or taking a posture that can inflame a prolapsed disk.
Can Changing Your Sleeping Position Relieve a Prolapsed Disk?
The chronic back pain caused by a slipped disk can follow you home. This can harm your sleep quality. Aside from the related stress, it hinders your recovery process. You can alleviate this stress merely by changing your sleeping position.
Here are some tips to help you get started:
Assuming the Fetal Position
The fetal position allows you to sleep on your side, curled up like a napping kitten. This relieves pressure and weight from the vertebrae giving the slipped tissue the chance to repair or realign. You can do it in the following steps:
Lay on your back and gently roll onto your side
Slowly pull your knees towards your chest
Twist your torso towards your knees
Lay your arms on the side
Switch sides often to prevent imbalance
Sleeping on Your Side
The fetal position alleviates upper back pain but may not be effective for pains in other regions. Sleeping on your side targets your pelvic and hip muscles. It also leads to better spinal alignment without needing so much space.
Start by moving to your side.
Rest your left or right shoulder and body on your mattress
Place a pillow on your knees to cushion your knees
Place a pillow on your waist for additional support
Ensure you switch sleep positions through the night to prevent spinal imbalance.
Reclining As You Slumber
Sleeping in a reclined position takes loads of pressure off your back. It creates a curve between your upper body and thighs while carrying all the weight. An adjustable bed can offer so much relief that you may not need other interventions. You can elevate your legs and stretch your back without any strain.
This gives your core muscles a break, and your body can focus on repairs while you sleep.
A prolapsed disk doesn't have to spell the end of your work days. You can take a few simple precautions to help prevent this and other repetitive strain injuries.
Make sure to get up and move around every hour or so. Stretch those muscles! Second, consider upgrading your office furniture and accessories with ergonomic options. Our website offers exclusive deals on top-quality products that will keep you healthy and productive at work.