If you've been diagnosed with (or strongly suspect you have) a herniated disc, you may be concerned about the prospect of spinal surgery. Fortunately, in many cases, prompt intervention and non-invasive treatments can be enough to send this herniated disc packing. Learn more about your treatment options for a herniated disc.
Treating Your Herniated Disc
When a disc herniates, it can press on your spinal nerves, causing pain, numbness, and tingling sensations. However, often the portion of the disc that has herniated can move back into place as long as it is not placed under additional stress. By acting quickly, you can reduce inflammation in the area and improve your odds of an uneventful recovery.
A few of the steps you'll want to take include:
- Getting plenty of rest. This isn't the time to engage in strenuous exercise routines or begin a major gardening project. By giving your spine some much-needed downtime, you'll avoid exacerbating the injury. You can alternate icy or warm compresses on the affected area to further improve your comfort.
- Stemming pain by using over-the-counter (OTC) medications. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can reduce the swelling that puts extra pressure on your spine, causing pain. By taking NSAIDs as directed when your pain ramps up, you'll make the recovery process more bearable. Just make sure not to overdo it on these medications; not only can this inadvertently cause you to overexert yourself (since you're not feeling as much pain), but the long-term use of NSAIDS can cause health problems. It's also important to avoid drinking alcohol if you're taking acetaminophen, as this can cause liver problems, or if you're taking ibuprofen, as this may cause stomach bleeding.
- Talking to your doctor about using muscle relaxers. If your herniated disc is accompanied by spasming muscles, a prescription muscle relaxer can help these muscles calm down and stop causing you pain. Allowing strained muscles to spasm uncontrollably could extend the healing process, so your doctor may recommend a muscle relaxer if he or she feels it's right for you.
- Pursuing electrical muscle stimulation as a treatment option. In some cases where a muscle relaxer just isn't doing the trick, electrical muscle stimulation may be an option. By sending tiny electrical currents through the muscles around your herniated disc, these treatments can help relax tense muscles while strengthening them. The stronger your spinal muscles are, the better equipped they are to protect your spine from injury.
Preventive Measures for Future Problems
Once your herniated disc has stopped causing you pain and you've returned to your normal activity level, it's important to begin taking preventive measures to ensure this doesn't happen again. Some people find physical therapy programs or personal training to be helpful both in seeing what to do and what not to do.
Other options include regular massage, ultrasound therapy, and, in some cases, chiropractic treatment. Be sure to discuss any of these options with your physician to see whether they're right for you.
For more information about herniated disc treatments, contact a medical professional near you.