My adult daughter is reclining in her articulated couch after a spinal injection. A year ago, she was in a rather nasty automobile accident. Among her list of injuries, was a damaged C6-C7 disc, causing a laundry list of pains and mobility issues in her left arm. Today’s injection was designed to reduce the inflammation in the nerve sheath, and the speed up the natural retraction of the disc tissue. By shrinking both masses, proper healing will occur, and her strength will return. I went through the same treatment for my cervical injury a couple years back. No fusion required, and I have only moderate residual nerve damage.
Thinking about how this would affect someone in a TEOTWAWKI existence, I reflected on what my spinal team told me. “If you can tough out the pain, these things will usually heal themselves in 12 – 18 months.” According to them, disc tissues will retract quite a bit, and scarring will cover the weakened area – over time. Without further mechanical insult to the damaged area. With rest and immobility.
My primary doctor went on to say that the middle cervical to lower thoracic spine does better than the upper cervical and lumbar sections. The lumbar carries a great deal of weight, and the upper cervical is made up of smaller vertebrae and has much tighter clearances for the spinal cord and foramen.
I suspect that an individual blessed with a good group to support him would get through this kind of injury and live a productive life. Painful as it is, with proper posture, rest and diet, and his group handling all necessary duties, he would heal enough to contribute. Someone on his own, or part of a group that absolutely needs his physical participation, will have a hard time of it.
What might a group do to prepare for treating someone with disc disease or injury? There are a few things that can be set aside in advance, and some practices to add to the medical information store. Tumeric and an inversion table could easily be added to a prepper’s inventory.
Tumeric. This is an arguably effective anti-inflammatory supplement. I used it in powdered capsule form, at twice the recommended dosage, in the early months of my injury, prior to the one and only injection. It worked well enough on my neck to limit pain (which limits potentially damaging reactionary motion), and set me up for a successful injection treatment. It stores well, and is useful for any injury where inflammation is a problem.
Traction. I experienced some early relief when my physical therapist, 1 month after the injury, applied manual traction for my spine. Almost instantly, there was relief from the pain in my neck, arm, hand and fingers. My grip strength increased. Further traction worked less, but the machine he then had me using wasn’t configured for me very well. In my later treatments at the spine institute, I was issued a Saunders traction unit that worked wonders. It has been doing great service for my daughter.
Cervical traction is a touchy thing. The angle of your neck, and the angle of the machine must work together. Thoracic and lumbar traction can be accomplished with a simple inversion table, set to about 25 degrees declination. In these cases, there is enough body weight below the injury site to stretch the spine and relieve the disc. A good unit can be found on Amazon for around $100. Why not? It is useful for general back pain, too, and can be folded up against a wall. A retreat could certainly do with one in its inventory.
Heat or Ice. When my world exploded and pain became enemy number one, only ice would dull it. Nothing I had on hand could cut the pain, and when the ice was removed, the pain was back with ferocity. But my wife kept the ice coming and going, and we shrunk tissue as best we could over the next few days. I eventually rotated ice and heat. This was more to get me through the worst of it and to a point where the pain could be fought with posture, Tumeric and Ibuprofen.
Comfortable Rest. Support and pads. Rest allows the body to heal. Comfortable rest reduces stress, and muscle clenching, which works against healing. Find a position that hurts the least, preferably two, and use them. In my case, and that of my daughter, raising the left arm over our heads was the magic position. A variety of pillow and bolsters are useful to assist holding a position that would otherwise fatigue us. Don’t be concerned with how you look in your rest position. This is your health we’re talking about.
Lose Weight. If the injury is a lumbar injury, and excess weight exists, get rid of it. While this slowly helps the current injury, it is more useful for down the road, when further violence to the damaged site might cause a relapse. Weight is a constant source of stress. It should not be tolerated unless other serious conditions make it a low priority.
Exercise. Keep muscles strong. Avoid atrophy. Simply walking can, at a moderate rate, keep muscles in action and support flexibility. Total immobility is sometimes necessary, but motion should be introduced into the daily routine as soon as the injury allows. We do not do well locked-down. Moving is good for the body and mind, especially if outdoors.
Diet. Eat a good portion of carbs and protein. Healing requires amino-acids and fuel. There simply is no getting around that. Drink fluids. All discs require it. Body processes require it. The brain needs it. Moderate dehydration will affect disc health and healing directly, and organ function in general.