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Dos And Don'ts For Patients Recovering From A Slipped Disk

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A slipped disk occurs when the gelatinous portion of the cushioning tissue between your vertebrae gets pushed out to the side, causing pain, numbness, and sometimes excessive muscle weakness. While patients occasionally require surgery to repair this issue, most recover without surgery as long as they take good care of themselves and closely follow the prescribed treatment protocols. Thus, If you have been diagnosed with a slipped disk (also known as a herniated disk), then it's important that you know what you should and should not do as you recover from this injury.

Do see a chiropractor in addition to your regular physician.

If you visit your regular physician with a slipped disk, he or she will likely diagnose the issue using x-rays and other techniques, and then tell you to refrain from physical activity while taking pain relievers over the next few weeks. These methods probably will eventually lead to your recovery, but there's a faster way to heal your slipped disk: visiting a chiropractor.

A chiropractor won't just tell you to rest until the issue gets better. He or she will actually use hands-on therapy to help speed your healing process. By adjusting the spine to ensure your vertebrae are in proper alignment, your chiropractor can ease pressure on your slipped disk, allowing the soft tissue it contains to work its way back into place more easily. Depending on the severity of your slipped disk, you may need to undergo regular chiropractic treatments every week for a while until the pain subsides, but by doing so, you'll make the healing process faster and more comfortable.

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Don't rely on pain relievers if you don't need them.

If you're resting as you're supposed to with a slipped disk, you may not be in that much pain. Try to save your pain relievers for days when the pain really is intolerable. Don't just take them when you're a little achy or "just in case." Over-the-counter pain relievers can have side effects including liver damage, stomach bleeding and an increased risk of heart attack if you take them too often. Prescription pain relievers are often addicting, and if you use them more than needed, you could end up battling withdrawal symptoms in addition to your slipped disk.

Do engage in some low-impact and stretching exercise.

When your physician or chiropractor tells you to "rest" while you recover from your slipped disk, he or she does not mean to sit around on the couch in your pajamas for a month. You should refrain from any strenuous activity, such as running, riding horses, and in particular, lifting things. However, doing some light activity will keep your muscles loose, which will help keep your pain levels under control.

Go for a short walk in the evening, do some gentle yoga on your living room floor, or pedal a stationary bike slowly. If an activity causes you pain, stay away from it, but feel free to partake in activities that don't aggravate your back.

Don't resort to surgery without a second (and third) opinion.

If your pain does not subside within a few months, your physician may suggest surgery to correct your slipped disk. However, there are always risks -- such as nerve damage and reactions to anesthesia -- involved with surgery, so you should take time to get a second and third opinion before undergoing this procedure. Some patients just take longer to heal than others -- you may need a few more months of rest and chiropractic care to get back to normal. Sometimes, seeing a physical therapist is the solution. Only resort to surgery if you've exhausted all other options and if several practitioners recommend that you do so.

By following the tips above, you can make the process of recovering from a slipped disk less painful and less time consuming. Keep in mind that everyone's case is different. Your chiropractor and physician know you best and may recommend different care based on your needs.