Q: What can I do to ease pain of my herniated disk?
A: The disks that separate your vertebrae are elastic pads of cartilage that consist of a tough, fibrous outer layer that surrounds a soft, jelly-like core. These disks are very important to mobility as they make movement of the spine possible and absorb shock. As people age, these disks start to degenerate, losing water and elasticity. As a result, their shock-absorbing ability lessens. If increased body weight, or strain, puts enough pressure on the disks, they can rupture [herniate]. A “herniated disk” is one in which the jelly-like core bulges outwards and presses on the spinal cord. Also called “slipped disk/s,” this condition produces symptoms such as back pain, shooting pains in the legs, numbness in extremities, and even immobility.
If you suffer from a herniated disk you’ll obviously want to avoid lifting, or carrying heavy or unbalanced loads. Beyond this, some nutritional and herbal supplements may be of use to you in relieving the pain, fighting inflammation, and restoring spinal health. Consider the following:
- Calcium [1,500-2,000 mg daily] with magnesium [700-1,000 mg daily] and vitamin D [400 IU daily] help keep the spine strong
- Horsetail, an herb high in the mineral, silica, may help repair damaged bones and connective tissue. Make a decoction by simmering 1/2 ounce of the dried herb, or 1 ounce of the fresh herb, in three cups of cold water until reduced to two cups; strain and drink a small cup 3-4 times daily
- A minor disk slip can be induced back into proper place by relaxation and loosening up the back muscles. Hot baths, acupressure, massage and gentle back exercises also help.
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