Treating Slip Disc in Ayurveda: A Comprehensive Guide
Slipped discs, also known as herniated or prolapsed discs, are a prevalent cause of back pain, affecting millions of people worldwide. In medical jargon, this condition refers to the movement or rupture of the intervertebral disc, causing it to press against the surrounding nerves. Consequently, this can lead to excruciating pain, tingling sensations, or even numbness in the back or limbs. Addressing the condition promptly and adequately is critical for alleviating symptoms and preventing further complications.
In this article, we will delve into the various aspects of ayurvedic slip disc treatment, from conservative approaches to surgical options. The aim is to provide a detailed understanding to help individuals make informed choices in consultation with their healthcare providers.
Anatomy of Slip Disc
Intervertebral discs act as cushions between the spinal vertebrae. These discs consist of a gel-like substance called nucleus pulposus surrounded by a fibrous ring known as annulus fibrosus. A slip disc occurs when the nucleus pulposus herniates, or slips out, through a tear in the annulus fibrosus, thereby irritating adjacent nerves.
Causes of Slip Disc
The causes of a slipped (herniated or prolapsed) disc are multifactorial and can involve a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Below are some of the most common causes:
1. Aging and Degenerative Changes
As people age, the intervertebral discs tend to lose their moisture content, making them less flexible and more prone to tears or ruptures. This process is known as disc degeneration and is a common cause of slipped discs in older adults.
2. Mechanical Stress
Improper lifting techniques, such as lifting heavy objects with the back rather than the legs, can exert excessive mechanical stress on the spinal discs, causing them to slip out of place.
3. Trauma or Injury
Accidents, falls, or any form of high-impact trauma can lead to immediate damage to the discs, resulting in a slipped disc.
Excess body weight increases the stress on the spinal column, contributing to the wear and tear of the discs. (Read Ayurvedic Treatment for weight loss)
Lack of physical activity weakens the muscles that support the spine, making discs more vulnerable to slippage.
6. Genetic Predisposition
Some people may be genetically predisposed to developing spinal issues, including slipped discs. Family history of back problems can be a risk factor.
7. Poor Posture
Long-term poor posture, especially while sitting for extended periods, can lead to uneven distribution of weight and pressure on the spine and discs.
8. Occupational Hazards
Jobs that involve repetitive lifting, bending, or twisting motions can increase the risk of developing a slipped disc.
Tobacco smoking is believed to contribute to disc degeneration and may increase the risk of a slipped disc.
10. Medical Conditions
Certain medical conditions like connective tissue disorders can make individuals more susceptible to spinal problems, including slipped discs.
Symptoms of Slip Disc
The symptoms of a slipped disc (also known as a herniated or prolapsed disc) can vary widely depending on the location of the affected disc and the severity of the condition. Notably, some people may have a slipped disc without experiencing any symptoms at all. However, when symptoms do occur, they may include:
1. Back Pain
One of the most common symptoms is pain in the back where the slipped disc is located. The pain can range from mild discomfort to severe, debilitating pain. (Read Back pain treatment in Ayurveda)
2. Radiating Pain
A slipped disc in the lumbar (lower back) region can cause pain that radiates down the leg, commonly known as sciatica. If the slipped disc is in the cervical (neck) area, the pain may radiate down the arm.
3. Tingling or Numbness
Pressure on the nerves can lead to sensations of tingling, “pins and needles,” or numbness in the extremities. For lumbar disc issues, this may occur in the leg or foot. For cervical disc issues, this may occur in the arm or hand.
4. Muscle Weakness
Affected nerves may lead to muscle weakness, affecting your ability to lift or hold items, walk, or perform other everyday activities.
5. Loss of Reflexes
In some cases, reflexes may be diminished or lost altogether in the limbs affected by the slipped disc.
6. Restricted Mobility
Pain and discomfort may limit your range of motion, making it difficult to turn the back or neck or assume certain postures.
7. Loss of Bladder or Bowel Control
In severe cases, known as cauda equina syndrome, a slipped disc can compress the bundle of nerve roots at the lower end of the spinal cord. This can lead to loss of bladder or bowel control and is a medical emergency requiring immediate treatment.
8. Inconsistent Symptoms
Some people find that their symptoms come and go, while others experience consistent, persistent discomfort.
9. Worsening with Activity
Certain movements, like bending or twisting, can exacerbate the symptoms. Coughing, sneezing, or even sitting down can sometimes increase the pain.
It’s crucial to consult a healthcare provider for accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment if you’re experiencing symptoms that could be attributed to a slipped disc. Imaging tests like MRI scans and clinical evaluations are often required to confirm the diagnosis and assess the severity of the condition.
A detailed medical history, physical examination, and imaging tests such as MRI or X-rays usually suffice for diagnosing a slipped disc. Early diagnosis is critical for effective treatment.
Slip Disc Treatment Approaches
- Pain Relief: Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen can help manage pain. However, these should only be used as a short-term measure unless advised otherwise by a healthcare provider.
- Physical Therapy: Exercises that aim to strengthen the core and back muscles can help manage and prevent symptoms.
- Rest and Activity Modification: It’s crucial to avoid activities that exacerbate the pain while also not staying bedridden for too long, as this can weaken muscles and worsen the condition.
- Microdiscectomy: A minimally invasive surgical procedure where the portion of the disc compressing the nerve is removed.
- Laminectomy: Removal of the lamina, the back part of the vertebra, to create more space for the nerves.
- Spinal Fusion: Fusing two vertebrae together to provide stability, is generally considered as a last-resort option.
- Ayurvedic Treatment: This is used as a non-surgical way of treating slipped discs in India shown good results.
- Chiropractic Care: Some people find relief through spinal adjustments.
- Acupuncture: Although evidence is limited, acupuncture may offer temporary relief from pain.
Slip Disc Treatment in Ayurveda
In Ayurveda, there is no direct reference to slip disc. Based on the symptoms it can be said that the condition occurs due to vitiation of vata dosha and kapha dosha.
The etiology factors which cause disturbance to vata dosha are excess intake of ruksha (dry), sheetha (cold), kashaya (astringent), etc. food items, vegadharana (suppression of natural urges), shoka (grief), bhaya (fear), krodha (anger) and many other factors.
Kapha dosha provides structural stability to tissues or structures. In slip disc the structure of the disc is damaged and causes the various symptoms depending on association with other doshas.
The treatment needs to be focused on vata and kapha dosha and hence therapies like snehana (oleation), swedana (sudation), kati basti, greeva basti, nasya (installation of medicines in the nostrils), basti (enema therapy) – both anuvasana (medicated enema with oil and ghee)and niruha (medicated enema with decoctions).
Ayurvedic medicines for Slip Disc
Various Ayurvedic medicines are chosen based on the severity of the condition and the predominance of specific doshas. Here are some commonly used medicines for the treatment of slipped discs.
- Rasnasaptaka kashayam
- Rasnaerandadi kashayam
- Dashamoola kashayam
- Yogaraja Guggulu
- Rasna Guggulu
- Lakshadi Guggulu
- Sahacharadi kashayam
- Ksheerabala Thaila
- Sahacharadi Thaila
- Prasaranyadi Kashayam
- Punarnavadi kashayam
- Hanwantharam Thaila
- Dhanwantharam Gulika
- Gandharvahastadi Thailam
- Bala Thailam
Diet and Lifestyle
Wheat, jowar, brown rice, ragi, soybean, carrot, beetroot, ladies finger, papaya, dates, banana, apricots, grapes, green leafy vegetables, milk, buttermilk, sesame, fennel, cardamom, cumin, turmeric, etc balanced diet can be consumed. Drink plenty of water, and fresh fruit juices.
- Use proper lifting techniques: do not bend at the waist, bend at the knees and lift
- Avoid sitting or standing in one position for longer periods
- Maintain proper posture of the body
- Maintain healthy body weight
- Avoid wearing high-heeled shoes
- Exercise regularly
- Regular brisk walk for about half an hour a day
- Quit smoking
- Boil half a teaspoon each of coriander seeds, cumin, and fennel seeds in three cups of water. Reduce it to one part. Drink it twice a day is helpful
- Two figs along with 5-6 soaked almonds per day can be beneficial
A slipped disk makes the movement of an individual difficult. Pain relief becomes of prior importance. Ayurveda has several measures to treat slipped disks. Surgeries can be avoided by adopting Ayurveda therapies. Proper lifting techniques, good posture, regular exercise, and brisk walking need to be followed for improvement in pain and restricted movements.
1. What causes a slipped disc?
Factors such as aging, wear and tear, lifting heavy objects incorrectly, or a traumatic injury can cause a slipped disc.
2. How is a slipped disc diagnosed?
Diagnosis typically involves a clinical evaluation, including physical tests and imaging studies like MRI.
3. Do all slipped discs require surgery?
No, many cases respond well to conservative treatment. Surgery is usually reserved for cases that don’t improve with conservative measures.
4. What are the risks associated with surgery?
As with any surgery, there are risks such as infection, bleeding, and nerve damage.
5. Can physical therapy cure a slipped disc?
While it can’t “cure” the condition, physical therapy can significantly improve symptoms and may negate the need for surgery.
6. Is it safe to exercise with a slipped disc?
Consult a healthcare provider for personalized advice. Generally, low-impact exercises may help, but high-impact activities should be avoided.
7. Do alternative therapies work?
The efficacy of alternative therapies like acupuncture and chiropractic care is not universally supported by scientific evidence but may provide temporary relief for some.
8. Can a slipped disc heal itself?
In some cases, symptoms improve on their own over time, but medical intervention is usually recommended to expedite recovery and manage symptoms.
9. How long does it take to recover?
Recovery time varies depending on the severity of the condition and the treatment approach. It may range from a few weeks for conservative treatments to a few months for surgical interventions.
10. Can a slipped disc recur?
Yes, particularly if one engages in activities that put excessive strain on the back or if underlying issues like poor posture are not addressed.
“This article does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on this website. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call or visit your doctor.”
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- Mayo Clinic: Herniated disc – Diagnosis and treatment
- WebMD: What Is a Herniated Disc?
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Herniated Disc