Also called a slipped disc, a herniated disc causes many painful symptoms, including aching and stiffness in the legs, back, and neck. Symptoms of a herniated disc vary from patient to patient, depending on the location and severity of the herniation. Fortunately, many patients find relief without having to undergo intense treatments.
Nonetheless, it’s still best to consult a doctor for a course of treatment if you’re experiencing a slipped disc. They will prescribe appropriate measures that you can take to recover effectively.
Treating a Herniated Disc
When recovering from a herniated disc, your physician may prescribe the following:
Like most health conditions, a herniated disc requires you to get ample rest to recover. Doctors generally recommend about one to two days of bed rest to ease inflammation in the back.
Once the bed rest period is over, you can begin to ease back into moving normally. Slowly getting back to doing your normal activities will ensure that your muscles don’t get stiff. Just be sure to avoid any activities that require you to lift things or bend down too soon.
While you’re resting, you might also benefit from cold and hot compresses. Alternate applying a cold pack and a heating pad to your back to reduce swelling and pain.
You may take medication to manage pain associated with a slipped disc. For a herniated disc, there are a few types of medicines that work well to treat symptoms. These include:
- Over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers, like naproxen sodium, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen. They work best for minor to moderate pain.
- Neuropathic medication like venlafaxine, duloxetine, pregabalin, and gabapentin. These reduce nerve impulses, so you don’t feel too much pain.
- Muscle relaxants can control muscle spasms in the back.
- Short-term opioids, like codeine and oxycodone-acetaminophen, offer stronger pain relief for more severe back pain.
#3 Spinal Injections
A spinal injection is recommended for quicker pain relief. It is commonly called a nerve block or an epidural. Your physician will inject a dose of steroid medicine into your spine to treat nerve inflammation that is causing a herniated disc.
Note that before it is administered, your doctor will have you undergo a CT scan or an X-ray to decipher the correct area for injection. In severe cases, more than one may be administered.
#4 Physical Therapy
Physical therapy is a great option for treating a herniated disc. This is because certain exercises are great at strengthening the muscles in the back.
Your doctor will refer you to a physical therapist who will create a personalized treatment plan. The most common activities to expect when you begin a physical therapy program are:
- Aerobic activities like stationary bicycle-riding and walking
- Cold and heat therapy
- Body massages
- Electric muscle stimulation
- Ultrasound therapy
While not many people will require surgery for a herniated disc, certain patients might not respond well to at-home remedies and physical therapy. For such patients, the last resort is back surgery.
If you notice that your symptoms aren’t going away after several weeks of conservative treatments, you may be recommended to undergo surgery. Watch out for these particular signs:
- Difficulty walking and standing
- Fatigue and weakness
- Loss of bowel and bladder control
- Poor control of pain
Surgery for a herniated disc usually involves the removal of the protruding component of the spinal disc. In more serious cases, the whole disc might need to be taken out. To make up for the lost disc, a bone graft will be done.
Your surgeon will speed up the process of bone fusion by placing metal hardware in the spinal column. The metal is meant to support your back and offer better spinal stability. In truly severe cases, the installation of a completely artificial disc might be performed.
Some examples of back surgeries done to treat a herniated disc are:
- Laminectomy, wherein a portion of the vertebrae is taken out to relieve the nerves.
- Discectomy, wherein the entire or a portion of the disc is removed.
- Spinal fusion, wherein two or more vertebrae will be attached to each other.
- Nucleotomy, wherein the nucleus or soft center of the disc is taken out through laser excision or medical suction.
- Disc replacement, wherein the herniated disc is replaced with an artificial disc.
What to Know About Herniated Disc Treatment
Treatment for a herniated disc consists of several at-home remedies and measures. For most people, these are enough to deliver significant relief. However, for patients with more severe pain, spinal injections and surgery might be needed.
Effective herniated disc treatment consists of:
- Ample rest
- Pain medication
- Spinal injections
- Physical therapy sessions
Be sure to visit your doctor as soon as you suspect a herniated disc. Back pain can become excruciating when left untreated. Your physician will help you plan a treatment program to hasten recovery and offer relief.
Herniated Disc Treatment Near Me
We at Baylis & Brown Orthopedics offer only the best treatments for herniated disc patients.
Dr. Robert Baylis specializes in orthopedic surgery and sports medicine, while Dr. Christopher Brown specializes in orthopedic surgery and spinal disorders. Together, they provide effective intervention and treatment options for patients suffering from a slipped disc.