Conservative treatments to attempt before undergoing fusion for a herniated disc
For patients who have a herniated disc, fusion surgery may be presented as an option in severe cases where this condition is causing nerve compression and spinal instability. However any type of spine surgery, including spinal fusion, should be seen as a treatment of last resort. In fact, for a large number of people, a steady course of conservative treatment over several weeks can provide necessary relief of symptoms and a return to an active lifestyle. A herniated disc can be a painful condition, but finding lasting relief and a good quality of life is possible without surgery.
Upon being diagnosed with a herniated disc, work with your doctor to develop a comprehensive and personalized treatment plan. The goal of nonsurgical treatment is to manage pain in the short term while taking longer-term steps to improve the health of your spine. Here are some of the methods your doctor may recommend:
- Pain management. Pain medication, muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory medication can all be effective at minimizing pain and reducing inflammation related to a herniated disc.
- Chiropractic adjustment and massage. Deep tissue massage or professional chiropractic sessions can straighten the spine and potentially provide some relief from nerve compression.
- Heat therapy or ice packs. The presence of heat increases blood flow and expedites the healing process, while ice can reduce swelling and act as a temporary numbing agent.
- Exercises and stretches. With the help of a trained professional, targeted exercises and stretching techniques can strengthen the spine, helping you to overcome pain and prevent future injury.
- Weight loss. Losing excess weight with the assistance of a dietician can reduce stress on the spine that can worsen or reinjure a herniated disc.
- Posture improvement. Ensuring the correct alignment of your spine while you stand, sit and sleep can further reduce pressure on the spine and speed recovery.
Patients who are still experiencing symptoms despite fully exhausting conservative treatment options will still often want to avoid surgery due to the risks and difficulties involved with a traditional open spine fusion procedure. This is why Laser Spine Institute provides minimally invasive stabilization procedures that are a safer and effective alternative,^ offering patients an outpatient experience through the use of muscle-sparing techniques.