Also referred to as a slipped disc, a herniated disc refers to an injury of the intervertebral discs that cushion the spinal vertebrae. The intervertebral discs have two parts: an outer ring that is robust and malleable called the annulus fibrosus and a soft inner core called the nucleus pulposus. When the annulus fibrosus deteriorates, the inner nucleus pulposus can breach it, causing disc herniation.
Herniated discs are responsible for the majority of lower back pain cases and can occur as a result of natural deterioration with age, improper lifting of heavy weight, obesity, repetitive straining motions such as twisting, and various other factors. Although the lower back pain caused by a herniated disc can be agonizing, it is often relieved naturally if proper care is taken.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and other over-the-counter medications for relief of the inflammation and pain associated with a herniated disc are recommended by Genesis Orthopedics & Sports Medicine. It is important to realize that anti-inflammatory medications only provide temporary pain relief and the most important step towards recovery is rest, ensuring that the herniated disc not be aggravated.
As the pain from the herniated disc improves, physical therapy for rehabilitation of the lower back muscles can be effective. The focus of physical therapy, following recovery from the immediate symptoms of a herniated disc, is to strengthen the muscles supporting the spine and prevent recurrence of the same injury in the future.