If you have been suffering from disc herniation, there are various ways to manage the condition. Basically, conservative treatments are employed first before going into more aggressive approaches such as surgery. According to a previous study, up to 73% of patients with disc herniation showed a significant improvement in their condition after 12 weeks without even undergoing surgery. This means that majority of disc herniation cases don’t require an invasive approach to manage the condition. This brings light to patients that are afraid of going into invasive procedures.
There are a number of conservative approaches for disc herniation including:
- Medication use
The initial treatment for disc herniation is the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve back pains. These drugs are often effective for mild to moderate pain. For severe back pains, corticosteroid injections can be administered along the spine above the area that is painful. This technique is known as epidural steroid injection, which offers fast relief from pain. Anti-depressants may also be used to relieve neuropathic pain.
- Physical Therapy
Physical therapy is another common approach for disc herniation. This may employ various exercises to help the protruding disc go back to its normal position. Most often, traction are also used to keep the vertebrae separated and aligned to allow the herniated disc to go back in its place. Electrical stimulation and massage are also used to relieve pain and paresthesias or abnormal sensations.
- Chiropractic care
Chiropractic care seems to be one of the most popular managements for disc herniation as patients get relived of the symptoms of herniated disc even without surgery. The chiropractor commonly employs chiropractic manipulations to remove vertebral subluxations and to allow the disc to revert back between the vertebrae. Chiropractors may also use various techniques such as massage and physical therapy to promote optimum results. Consult a chiropractor to determine if you are a candidate for spinal manipulations.
Most of the ancillary approaches such as chiropractic care and physical therapy are employed along with medications. Other adjunct managements to disc herniation may also be employed. Weight reduction and control is one of the managements to reduce the worsening of the condition. If you have a herniated disc, losing weight or controlling your weight prevents the further compression of the disc and nerves. As people gain weight, there will be more pressure placed on the protruding disc causing more severe conditions. Smoking cessation is also another adjunct measure. Through quitting smoking, you improve the circulation especially to the herniated disc. The use of a lumbosacral back support is also often used to reduce tension along the lumbar area, the moist common site for disc herniation.
When all managements seem not to take effect, surgery is the last resort for disc herniation treatment. When cauda equina syndrome or the compression of the bundle of nerves at the end of the lumbar area is present, surgery is seen as an emergency approach to prevent progressive neurologic damage. The most common procedure involved is surgical decompression to relieve pressure on the disc. Surgical decompression may involve specific surgical techniques such as:
- Laminectomy or the repair of spinal stenosis
- Chemonucleolysis or the dissolving of the herniated disc
- Discectomy to relieve compression of the nerves
- Cervical fusion or the fusing of the vertebrae to promote a more stable spine and prevent the recurrence of disc herniation.
Other surgeries may be employed depending on the approach of the surgeon. These are the usual treatment modalities for disc herniation. If you are suffering from chronic back pains, consider vising a physician for proper treatment.