Do you sometimes experience pain in the back or neck when moving around, bending forward, or even lifting a heavy object? Does the pain feel sharp or electric-like and radiate down one side of the leg or arm? These could be signs of a herniated or slipped disc.
Your spine is a series of stacked bones called vertebrae, with discs in between. These discs have a gel-like core encased in a sturdy outer shell.
If the gel-like center of the disc pushes through its outer layer, it can press on nearby nerves, leading to pain and discomfort. This condition is known as a herniated, ruptured, or slipped disc.
Can a Herniated Disc Heal?
Sometimes, a herniated disc can heal on its own when you give it time and follow some simple recommendations. It may take several weeks, and the pain can be managed by:
- Resting from activities for a few days. It is important, however, to avoid long bed rest as it causes stiffness and can worsen symptoms.
- Taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatories and pain relievers such as naproxen or ibuprofen for pain relief.
- Using heat or ice to relieve discomfort in the affected area.
- Sitting in firm chairs to support your spine.
- Gently stretching to maintain flexibility and relieve nerve pressure.
Additional treatments may be needed if these methods fail to ease your discomfort, symptoms worsen, or pain persists for more than four weeks.
Treatment Options for Herniated Disc
Before deciding what type of treatment is appropriate for you, your doctor will need to assess your symptoms and rule out other conditions. They will confirm your herniated disc through examination and use imaging tests to diagnose it accurately.
The initial approach to herniated disc symptomatic relief is non-surgical.
Non-Surgical Treatments for a Herniated Disc
A physical therapist will work with you to strengthen muscles that support your spine. They will also focus on stretching exercises to increase flexibility and reduce stiffness.
Muscle relaxants, prescription pain relievers, steroids, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory are options for relief. These are typically used in conjunction with a physical therapy plan.
Steroid injections are a type of spinal injection that reduces swelling and pain. They are injected directly into the area surrounding the spinal cord, providing relief at the source.
Surgery may be an option if these treatments fail to provide relief and symptoms persist.
Surgical Treatments for a Herniated Disc
There are different types of surgeries depending on your needs. Your doctor may recommend:
Microdiscectomy is a minimally invasive spinal surgery that helps relieve the pressure on your nerves. The goal is to remove the herniated part of the disc to prevent nerve compression. It’s usually done as an outpatient procedure, meaning you would be able to go home the same day.
A lumbar laminectomy is a surgery that removes the lamina from your lower spine. Lamina is the bony protrusion of your spine. By removing the lamina, the pressure is released from the compressed nerves or spinal cord.
Spinal fusion is a procedure done to stabilize your spine. The goal is to join two or more bones in your spine to reduce movement between them. It will also help prevent irritation to your nerves, reducing your pain.
Spinal fusion may be a consideration for you if your pain is very severe and other surgeries are not likely to reduce your pain.
Artificial Disc Replacement
Artificial disc replacement may be an option to preserve spinal stability and flexibility. It is an alternative to spinal fusion. Surgeons will first remove the herniated disc. They will then replace the herniated disc with an artificial disc made of metal or plastic.
Don’t Suffer From Disc Pain
You don’t have to suffer from disc pain. There are many effective herniated disc treatment options available. If surgery is necessary, your surgeon will help you decide which option is best. And if you’ve been told that surgery isn’t necessary, getting a second opinion with an experienced neurosurgeon is a great next step in getting pain relief.
Don’t continue to suffer with disc pain – schedule an appointment or second opinion consultation today!