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Hot Disc Recommendations

The intervertebral disk is a structure made of ligaments and tissue that separates two vertebrae in your spine.  They are between every vertebrae you have except the top two.  It acts as a shock-absorber in the spine and literally keeps your bones from clashing together.

Injury to the disc can be very mild, such as a “pinch that causes minimal swelling” but there are also more destructive lesions termed “herniation” or “protrusion”.  The damage to the outer ligaments of the disk permits the center to migrate to the periphery of the disk.  This produces a very large bunch of tissue sticking out from under the vertebra and is difficult (but not impossible) to treat and extremely painful.  Regardless of the severity the mechanics of a disc disorder is that some portion of the disk has extended into the neural canal where the spinal nerve lies.  The pressure on the nerve produces pain that can run from irritating to immobilizing. It is a true injury and will not vanish if you ignore it.

Dr. Gunter will explain the nature of your IVD (InterVertebralDisk) disorder to you, but this brochure contains the basic home care necessary for any disk problem.

HOME TREATMENT RECOMMENDATIONS  

Most Common are LUMBAR IVD disorders (known as the classic “slipped disk”)

DO NOT HEAT YOUR BACK!!!  The heat will initially feel good but causes more swelling which brings more pain.

ICE your back for twenty minutes at a time.  Do not ice where the pain runs, that is the nerve path, Ice the spine at the level of the disk.  Dr. Gunter will show you where.  While icing, lay on your back with a pillow under your knees.

Do not put the ice pack on your bare skin!  A relatively thin cloth should separate your skin from the cold (avoids frostbite).  This goes for any IVD anywhere, neck, back or lower back.     

It is best to have the knees elevated slightly when on your back, whether icing or sleeping. If you are a side sleeper, put a pillow between your knees.  Should you prefer to sleep on your stomach, put a pillow under one knee to prop you a bit on your side.  Your back will tell you which knee to prop (it’s the one that hurts your back the least).

After each icing episode wait about an hour before you ice it again.  The ice will reduce the inflammation and squeeze the old stale fluids out of the tissue.  Waiting an hour permits fresh fluid to enter the damaged area bringing nutrients and oxygen to promote healing.  You can repeat the use of ice as often as you need. But always give it the hour post-ice to normalize.

You can also use supplements to reduce inflammation.  I recommend BROMELAIN 1500 mg 3 or 4 times a day on an empty stomach.  Turmeric is an excellent anti-inflammation agent and you can take it with food if you want (or empty stomach).  Both agents work as well or better than NSAIDS (advil, motrin, etc.) and they will not burn a hole in your GI tract.  Aspirin or Tylenol can also be used to dull the pain, if necessary.

CERVICAL AND THORACIC IVD DISORDERS      

As with the Lumbar discs described above, you will need to ice the painful disk.  In the neck and upper back it is a bit easier, the place to ice is almost always where you feel the pain.

Once again the 20 minutes on ice, 60 minutes off rule applies.

When icing the neck, I recommend folding a towel length ways and rolling it into a tight cylinder.  Place this under your neck as you lie down and put the ice pack between the towel and your neck pain.

Do not put the ice pack on your bare skin!  A relatively thin cloth should separate your skin from the cold (avoids frostbite).  This goes for any IVD anywhere, neck, back or lower back.     

The same recommendations for supplements and pain relief apply to the neck and mid back as the lumbar (please read above).

In sleeping with a neck or mid back pain, lying prone (flat on your back) is preferred.  However, should you want to sleep on your side, you will need to have enough pillows under your head to keep your head level and perpendicular to your shoulder.  If you head sinks into the pillow and drops below the level of your shoulder, you will irritate the disk and further hurt your neck.  Sleeping flat on your stomach with your head turned is just not really possible with a cervical IVD. The closest you can get is to put a pillow under your chest to prop you more on your side and then use enough pillows to hold your head perpendicular to your shoulders.