How can I get rid of this back pain caused by a bulging disc?

Tired female worker with a back problem. PHOTO|POOL

What you need to know:

  • The spinal column is made up of 33 small bones, called vertebrae, that are stacked on top of each other. 
  • You should be concerned if your baby vomits forcefully and ejects a lot of milk, if the vomit has greenish stuff (bile) or blood, if the baby becomes weak or develops difficulty breathing after vomiting, or if the baby is not gaining weight. 

Hi doctor,
I have been having back pain and I was told it is because I have a bulging disc. What can take away the pain? Is there a permanent solution? 
Hellena

Dear Hellena,
The spinal column is made up of 33 small bones, called vertebrae, that are stacked on top of each other. Each of those bones has a hole in the middle, so when they are joined together, a canal is formed, which is where the spinal cord passes carrying all the nerves. At the space between one bone and the next, a nerve leaves the spinal cord, heading to its specific destination, such as a finger.
Also, between one bone and the next, there is a sort of cushion, called an inter-vertebral disc. If this disc protrudes or bulges out of its specific space (called a slipped or prolapsed disc), then it can press on the nerves that are leaving through that space, or cause the space that the spinal cord is in to become smaller, what is called stenosis.
When this happens, there is back pain, and there is also pain along the path that the compressed nerve is taking , for example to the thigh, leg or foot.
The bulging of the inter-vertebral disc can be caused by wearing out of the disc by disease, or from constant sitting, driving or squatting. Sometimes, the disc can bulge due to lifting heavy loads or from sport injuries. 
The disc that is bulging cannot be pushed back into place.
Pain management may include different types of medication to reduce the pain and/or lessen inflammation, back exercises with a skilled personal trainer; and physiotherapy. You should not lift anything beyond your abilities. Make sure you get adequate rest after straining. Even with seemingly smaller loads, like a bucket of water, make sure you do not lift while your back is bent. Squat and lift slowly with your back straight. Also, maintain good posture. 
Surgery may need to be done if the pain cannot be controlled by medication, if there is numbness or weakness, difficulty with walking and standing and loss of bowel or bladder control.

Dear Flo,
My two-month old baby vomits after every feed. What could be the problem?
Maria

Dear Maria,
It is normal for babies to spit up some milk when they burp or after a meal. This is because the muscle that closes the junction between the food pipe and the stomach (oesophageal sphincter) is not very strong. But it grows stronger with time and the spit up reduces as the baby grows older. The baby may spit up more if it has been overfed or taken in a lot of air when bottle feeding.
You should be concerned if your baby vomits forcefully and ejects a lot of milk, if the vomit has greenish stuff (bile) or blood, if the baby becomes weak or develops difficulty breathing after vomiting, or if the baby is not gaining weight. If any of these is happening, have the baby reviewed by a paediatrician.
To reduce the vomiting, make sure the baby’s diaper is not too tight, give smaller and more frequent feeds, feed the baby slowly and hold the baby upright for about 30 minutes after feeding. Burp the baby often during and after feeds and do not play with or handle the baby roughly soon after feeds.

Dr Flo,
I am 26 years old. For the past few weeks, I have been drinking more than usual. During this time, I have also noticed that I have a discomfort in my stomach. There is no pain, it is just a burning sensation. What could it be? Kindly advise. 
Ron

Dear Ron,
The discomfort on the left side and abdomen is most likely due to gastritis, triggered by alcohol intake. Gastritis means that the lining of your stomach is inflamed or irritated. This is usually caused by excess stomach acid and imbalance of some digestive enzymes. 
When this process goes on for some time, it can lead to formation of an ulcer, which is an open wound on the lining of the stomach, the lower part of the oesophagus, or the duodenum (first part of the small intestines).
The discomfort may come when hungry, or just after eating, or it may be worse at night. You may also experience pain, heartburn, a lot of gas in the stomach, nausea or vomiting, constipation, or occasional diarrhoea. If the excess acid is coming back up the food pipe, it can cause throat irritation and pain, cough and a bitter taste in the mouth. If the ulcer is very severe, you may have blood in the vomit, dark coloured stool, weight loss and severe pain.
Most times, gastritis goes away on its own, or with medication. The symptoms usually come back from time to time, especially when triggered, for example by taking some painkillers, binge drinking, staying hungry or taking particular foods. 
To manage it, stop taking alcohol, or if you must, make sure you eat well before; take water constantly and avoid taking more than four units of alcohol. There are medications to manage the symptoms, including proton pump inhibitors like omeprazole, sucralfate and antacid syrups. 

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