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All about herniated disc causes of herniated discs symptoms of herniated disc diagnosis of herniated disc treatment for herniated discs prevention of herniated disc

What's the treatment for herniated discs?

In most cases, a herniated disk will heal on its own with around two days of bed rest, over-the-counter pain relievers to help with the discomfort, and anti-inflammatory medications. After about 2 weeks, many people recover without any treatment. Applying cold (such as ice packs) or heat (such as a heating pad) or using over-the-counter analgesics may help relieve the

pain. Sometimes surgery to remove part or all the disk and part of a vertebra is necessary. In 10 to 20% of people who undergo surgery for sciatica due to a herniated disk, another disk ruptures.

In most cases, a herniated disk (with or without sciatica) will respond to conservative treatment. This may include limited bed rest (generally no more than a day or two) warm baths, heating pads and medications, such as aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or muscle relaxants. When these more conservative measures don't work, epidural steroid injections may be helpful. Epidural steroid injections have been used to decrease pain by injecting an antiinflammatory drug, usually a corticosteroid, around the nerve root to reduce inflammation and edema (swelling). This involves the careful injection of a long acting steroid and an anesthetic into the space near the spinal cord and compressed nerves. This partly relieves the pressure on the nerve root as well as resolves the inflammation.

Because prolonged inactivity can promote deconditioning, physical therapists may suggest that you start an exercise regimen early. Physical therapists are skilled in treating acute back pain caused by the disk herniation. The physical therapist can provide noninvasive therapies, such as ultrasound or diathermy to project heat deep into the tissues of the back or administer manual therapy, if mobility of the spine is impaired. They may help improve posture and develop an exercise program for recovery and long-term protection. Appropriate exercise can help take pressure off inflamed nerve structures, while improving overall posture and flexibility. Traction can be used to try to decrease pressure on the disk. A lumbar support can be helpful for a herniated disk at this level as a temporary measure to reduce pain and improve posture.

If the disk has fragmented, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the pieces of the disk that are compressing the nerve. There are many types of surgical techniques for repairing a herniated disk. With a laminectomy, the surgeon removes any fragments of the disk that are pressing on the nerve, as well as a part of the vertebra called the lamina. Microsurgical techniques require smaller incisions and only a local anesthetic. Some types of herniated disk surgeries can be performed on an outpatient basis. The extent of your injury, as well as your age and overall health, will help determine the type of surgery that is best for you. Surgery is followed by physical therapy to strengthen the back and help you resume normal activities. Surgery is performed in only a small number (less than 10%) of people who have herniated discs. Surgery may be considered for people who have progressive nerve damage or severe weakness or numbness or for those whose pain has not been relieved by other methods.


More information on herniated disc

What is a herniated disc? - A herniated disc is a common cause of lower back pain. Disks are round, flat, plate-like structures between the vertebrae in the spinal column.
What causes herniated discs? - Herniated discs are caused by aging, degeneration of the disc or injury to the spine. A herniated disc can be caused by any type of intense pressure.
What're symptoms of herniated disc? - The most common symptom of a herniated disk is lower back pain following a fall, injury to the back, or after lifting a heavy object.
How is a herniated disc diagnosed? - A health professional can often diagnose a herniated disc using a medical history and physical examination.
What's the treatment for herniated discs? - Herniated disk (with or without sciatica) will respond to conservative treatment. Surgical techniques repair a herniated disk.
How to prevent herniated disc? - Proper exercises to strengthen the lower back and abdominal muscles are key in preventing excess stress and compressive forces on lumbar herniated discs.
Bone, joint, & muscle disorders

Topics in bone, joint, and muscle disorders

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All information is intended for reference only. Please consult your physician for accurate medical advices and treatment. Copyright 2005,, all rights reserved. Last update: July 18, 2005