Disc prolapse is also known as a herniated disc, a bulging, protruding, or ruptured disk.  It can affect any part of the spine causing pain. It is mainly known to occur in the lower back or the neck. Disc prolapse mainly affects one side of the body. About 60 to 80% of people globally may experience lower back pain at some point in life. In the early stages, many people may not have any significant symptoms from disc prolapse.  

The disc prolapse problem may be mild, moderate, or severe, with no symptoms at all. However, it may get severe and can be very painful in complicated cases. Most people may feel better in a few weeks with rest and medications. However, in chronic cases of disc prolapse, it might even take months to clear. Homeopathic medicines help treat chronic disc prolapse by alleviating pain and inflammation.  

Role of homeopathy in disc prolapse  

In disc prolapse, the disc begins to herniate or bulge when a jelly-like part in the center of the disc pushes against the outer layer of the disc. This causes compression of a spinal nerve arising from the spinal cord. The bulging disc puts pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots. The pressure against the outer ring of the vertebrae causes lower back pain, which may also radiate to the upper and lower extremities. Homeopathy helps in relieving nerve-like pain by reducing the inflammation of the spine. 

Five effective homeopathic medicines for disc prolapse  

Calcarea carbonica

Common name: Carbonate of lime  

Calc. carb. is indicated in cases of chronic lower back pain due to disc prolapse. It is especially suited to the cases of people who are mentally exhausted due to overworking. The patients are fair, fat, and flabby and are overweight and obese with large bellies, which puts pressure on the spine. This remedy is mainly given for lumbar pain and inflammation with pain between the shoulder blades. Stiffness and weakness are present in the lower back. Lower back pain generally arises from lifting excessive pain. Pain worsens in cold, wet weather and is better when lying on the painful side.   

Kalium carbonicum  

Common name: Carbonate of potassium

Kali. carb. is indicated in cases of disc prolapse with sharp, cutting pain in the lower back. There is pain radiating from the lower back to the bilateral legs. Pain may also radiate to the knees, thighs, hips, and joints. There is a marked sensation of weakness in the lower back with a feeling that the legs may suddenly give up. Stitching pain is present in the back, with a feeling as if the back is paralyzed. The pain increases in the morning, in cold weather, and lying on the left or the painful side. Pain is better with movement and warm weather.  

Kalmia latifolia  

Common name: Mountain laurel  

Kalmia is recommended in cases of disc prolapse with numbness and extreme pain in the lower limbs. The pain radiates from the lower back to the entire spine with vertigo. It is worsened when bending forward. Severe pain is present with a sensation that the back would break. The pain mainly arises from the lower back. It is worsened by any kind of motion, looking down, and open air.   

Rhus toxicodendron  

Common name: Poison ivy 

Rhus tox. is indicated in herniated disc cases with pain in the lower back and stiff neck. The pain radiates to all four extremities. There is sciatica pain, which worsens in cold weather. Pain is better when lying on something hard and there is marked pain between the shoulder blades, especially when swallowing. Symptoms are further exacerbated after resting or after sleep and when lying on the back or the right side. Pain is better on massaging the affected area in dry, warm weather, and changing positions.  

Bryonia alba  

Common name: Wild hops  

Bryonia is suited in cases of disc prolapse with lower back pain and stiffness. The patient is a robust, dark-complexioned individual who tends to be easily irritable. There is dryness of mucus membranes with stitching and tearing pain. The patient may have a fainting sensation when sitting up due to pressure on the back. The pain is worsened by warm weather and even the slightest motion, morning, eating, and touching the affected area. The patient is better at lying on the painful side, resting, and using cold applications. 

Causative factors for disc prolapse  

  • Natural age-related wear and tear on the spine, which causes disc degeneration.  
  • Traumatic events such as falls or an accident.  
  • Improper lifting or lifting heavy weights which puts pressure on the back.  
  • Repetitive activities that strain the back.  
  • Frequent driving.  
  • Improper posture. 

 Symptoms of disc prolapse  

  • Excruciating, constant, or intermittent lower back pain. 
  • Pain radiating to the entire spine. 
  • Sciatica with sharp pain extending from the lower back to the buttocks and radiating to one of the legs.  
  • Pain radiating from the lower back to bilateral hips and legs.  
  • Compression or pressure on the spinal nerve. 
  • Numbness of the bilateral legs.  
  • Tingling sensation in the legs or foot.  
  • Heaviness on walking.  
  • Weakness of the legs or the foot. 
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control in severe conditions. 

Treatment of disc prolapse  

Rest  

Initial treatment for herniated discs is a non-surgical solution with rest. Resting for 2-3 days helps reduce pain. It is important not to overexert yourself in case of active disc prolapse. 

Medication

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) help reduce inflammation in the disc. Painkillers to relieve the pain and swelling. Muscle relaxants to reduce the strain on the muscles surrounding the affected disc. 

Physical therapy and rehabilitation  

Specific exercises focused on the lower back or legs can help strengthen the back. Physical therapy can include traction, heat ultrasound, and electrical stimulation which can help reduce inflammation or pain and improve movement.  

Surgical treatment  

Disc prolapse may require surgery in extreme cases only after a certain period of non-surgical treatment has lapsed with no positive effects to relieve pain. Patients with complications such as muscle weakness, difficulty walking, and loss of bladder or bowel control can opt for surgical treatment.  

Lifestyle modifications for disc prolapse  

  • It is important to lead an active lifestyle with regular exercises to help improve blood circulation and keep back muscles flexible and fit.   
  • Avoid prolonged hours of sitting in one place and take regular breaks in between to move a little.  
  • Ensure you get adequate sound sleep for 8 hours every night, allowing your body muscles to relax, destress, repair, and recover. Try sleeping on your back for better support. 
  • Maintain a correct posture with the right ergonomic chair and mattress.  
  • Avoid bending forward and lifting heavy weights.   
  • Avoid using high heels.  
  • Eat mindfully and choose healthy options for your diet to maintain the weight. Putting on extra kilos can cause pressure on the spine.  

Conclusion  

It is vital to get checked in the early stage of disc prolapse. Lower back pain is usually a crucial sign of disc prolapse. Homeopathic medicines can help relieve pain and inflammation. With the right case history and summary of symptoms, a constitutional homeopathic remedy can be prescribed for the lower back pain due to disc prolapse.

References 

  • Shore J. Calcarea carbonica. Br Homeopath J [Internet]. 1994;83(03):148–54. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/s0007-0785(05)80861-0
  • Thomaz, L. C. L. (2021). Symptomatic nucleus of homeopathic remedies: remedies derived from carbon as case-study. International Journal of High Dilution Research – ISSN 1982-6206, 8(26), 15–25.Available from: https://doi.org/10.51910/ijhdr.v8i26.330
  • Lennihan B. Homeopathy for pain management. Altern Complement Ther [Internet]. 2017;23(5):176–83. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/act.2017.29129.ble
  • Pach D, Brinkhaus B, Roll S, Wegscheider K, Icke K, Willich SN, et al. Efficacy of injections with disci/Rhus Toxicodendron compositum for chronic low back pain – A randomized placebo-controlled trial. PLoS One [Internet]. 2011;6(11):e26166. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0026166
  • Prakash A, Bhowmik NC, Singh S, Sadhukhan S, Rai S, Singh S, et al. Individualized homeopathic medicines for low back pain in lumbar spondylosis: Double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Homeopathy [Internet]. 2023;112(04):240–50. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1055/s-0042-1758132