Have you had the pain for less than four weeks?
It’s probably a herniated disc pressing against a nerve. Try bed rest (for no longer than three days), painkillers (such as Panado, Brufen or Voltaren), stretches and either physiotherapy or a visit to a chiropractor. If the pain is bad or doesn’t improve in four weeks you must see a doctor.
A scan would then be required to rule out a prolapsed disc or a displaced vertebra pressing on a nerve. After one herniated disc episode there’s a 20 per cent chance of surgery, after a second a 50 per cent chance and after a third it’s 67 per cent.
If you need an operation it will probably be to remove the part of the disc that’s pressing against the nerve. This is known as a discectomy. It’s no longer necessary to remove part of a vertebra to gain access to the disc.
|PROCEDURE||PATIENT'S AVERAGE AGE||DURATION||RECOVERY TIME||SUCCESS RATE||TOTAL COST|
The part of the disc pressing on a nerve is removed.
|30-60 years||1 hour||4 weeks||85%||R25 000|
(This is an edited version of a story that originally appeared in YOU Pulse / Huisgenoot-POLS magazine, Autumn 2008. Buy the latest copy, on newsstands now, for more fascinating stories from the world of health and wellness.)