Herniated Disc Treatment overview


What is Herniated Disk Treatment and surgery? 

Herniated disc treatment often depends on the symptoms produced by the condition. A herniated disc occurs when the gel-like center of the disc breaks through its fibrous, outer shell.

This can cause symptoms like pain and abnormal sensations in the legs or arms. Symptoms depend on where the herniation occurs. Herniated disc treatment will be directed at the affected area of your spine which could be either of the following sections:

  • Cervical Spine: This is on your upper back and neck area
  • Thoracic Spine: Mid-spine region
  • Lumbar Spine: This is the lower part of your back

Not every case of a sore back will result or require herniated disc treatment and in most cases don’t require surgery.

Herniated disc treatment risks

Herniated disc treatment include surgical and non-surgical options, and as with all treatments, there are certain risks some patients may face.When surgery is involved, various risks is possible as it is with all surgeries including:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Nerve root damage
  • Build up of fluid in the lungs which could lead to pneumonia
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Persistent pain post-surgery

Over-the-Counter Medications

  • Acetaminophen: Acetaminophen can reduce pain and fever, but it won’t take away inflammation. Most people, but not everyone can tolerate acetaminophen.
  • Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): NSAIDs both relieve pain and decrease inflammation. This makes them more effective than acetaminophen as a herniated disc treatment. Some examples of NSAIDs available over-the-counter include ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen. People who have stomach ulcers may not be able to tolerate these medications.

Prescription Medications

If your pain is not relieved by non-prescription drugs, your doctor may recommend prescription medications to help your pain as a herniated disc treatment. Medications sometimes prescribed to treat the pain of a herniated disc include:

  • Prescription-strength NSAIDs
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Oral steroids
  • Narcotics: (opioids)
  • Anti-depressants
  • Epidural steroid injections
    Epidural injections used as herniated disc treatment can pose risks such as loss of bowel and bladder control, as well as less sensation and movement in arms and legs. Some patients can also experience severe pain and headache. If these symptoms are experienced after an epidural steroid injection then it is important to seek medical attention.

    OTC treatments as well as prescribed medicine can result in corticosteroids such as fever, weight gain, fever, nervousness, increased blood pressure and peptic ulcers.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms of herniated disc include:
  • Weakness or numbness of legs and arms
  • Back pain
  • Loss of bowel and bladder control
Diagnostics may be done by a doctor or Chiropractor where they will do tests and scans to determine the source as well as be able to subscribe treatment. Some diagnosis methods include:
  • MRI scan
  • CT scan
  • Blood work
  • X-rays
  • Myelogram
Your chiropractor will also check the state of your nerves, reflexes and muscle strength. Other tests will evaluate posture and spinal column and chiropractors will use techniques such as:
  • Pelvic blocking
  • Flexion-distraction

Herniated disc treatment options

  • Exercise – to help stabilize the muscles in your back these can include the likes of Pilates, Yoga, and Aerobics.
  • Physical therapy – this happens after surgery but if you never had surgery, a physical therapist can help you work out the best exercise routine for your herniated disc.
Other herniated disc treatment also include acupuncture, acupressure, and massage. It is important to take it slow and ask about what exercise methods that will best suit your condition. 

Exercise as part of herniated disc treatment

Exercise is often recommended as a herniated disc treatment. It can help reduce pain and can help ensure the long-term well-being of your back. Physical therapy also teaches the patient how to properly take care of themselves when they’re at home.

Passive Therapy for Herniated Disc Treatment

  • Deep Tissue Massage
  • Cold and Hot Therapy
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
  • Traction

Active herniated disc treatment help with posture, strength, flexibility, joint movement and core stability. In addition to these, an exercise program may also be recommended to help you achieve maximum benefit from your therapy program. Your program will be developed by you and your therapist. It will be based on your individual diagnosis and your unique health history.

The ultimate goal of physical therapy for herniated disc treatment is to give you the knowledge to maintain a lifestyle that is free from pain. You will learn ways to strengthen and condition your back, and you may be taught ways to take care of yourself so you understand the best ways to treat your symptoms.

As with any new treatment or program, inform your provider if you have any health problems, conditions or concerns other than your herniated disc pain. Alternative herniated disc treatments work best when they are combined with conventional medical therapies.

Most people who have a herniated disc recover without surgery, but some patients do require surgery as herniated disc treatment. Surgery is usually only considered after several months of conservative treatment. Many surgeries can be completed using minimally invasive techniques. This means smaller incisions, less time spent in the hospital, quicker recovery and less post-operative pain.

A discectomy is one example of herniated disc treatment that is surgically performed. In this procedure, a portion or all of a damaged disc is removed. If a disc in the neck has herniated, an incision is made in the front of the body. Approaching the body from the front is called an anterior approach. If the part of the vertebra known as the lamina is removed to make more room in the spinal canal, the procedure performed as herniated disc treatment is called a laminectomy.

Sometimes during minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS), the surgeon makes a very small cut (incision) through which a tiny camera can be inserted. Surgical instruments that are also very small are used in these procedures, and sometimes special imaging equipment is also needed.

Other spinal procedures are sometimes needed as herniated disc treatment. These may include:

  • Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion
  • Cervical Corpectomy
  • Laminoplasty

If your physician recommends surgery as a herniated disc treatment, be sure to ask what the purpose of the procedure is, what results you can expect to be accomplished, and the potential complications that may occur as a result. Your surgeon will be happy to answer your questions.

One of the best-herniated disc treatments is prevention. Not all causes of herniated discs can be prevented, but there are ways to maximize your spinal health.


Smoking increases your risk of having back problems. This could be because smoking decreases blood flow or it could be because smokers also tend to have other unhealthy habits. One study showed that young adult smokers who smoked long-term were two times more likely to develop pain in their lower back than nonsmokers.

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