What to do after being diagnosed with a herniated disc in the back

After being diagnosed with a herniated disc in the back it may be easy to become alarmed or concerned that you may no longer be able to enjoy a full and active life. However, many patients who have a herniated disc are able to relieve symptoms of pain, tingling, numbness and muscle weakness with conservative, nonsurgical treatments. An often overlooked part of the treatment process for any condition is patient education, as having a greater understanding of your condition — and the full range of therapeutic options available — can help you better work with your doctor or other healthcare provider to find lasting relief.

How do herniated discs happen?

The primary cause of a herniated disc in the back is the natural aging process. Years of absorbing shock, combined with an age-related loss of elasticity, can eventually cause the discs in our spine to deteriorate. Other factors like weight, posture and injury can also contribute to disc degeneration. As a disc weakens, its outer shell is prone to developing cracks or tears, which can allow its jellylike nucleus to herniate through the outer layer. The outer shell of a disc contains many nerve fibers and if nucleus material irritates these nerve endings, local pain can result.

A herniated disc can also cause symptoms when the extruded material compresses a nearby spinal nerve. Because the nerves in the spine send signals affecting movement and sensation throughout the body, patients can experience symptoms including shooting pain, tingling, numbness and muscle weakness in the upper or lower extremities as a result.

Treating the condition

Several conservative, nonsurgical methods can be used to relieve the symptoms of a herniated disc in the back, including:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Physical therapy
  • Hot/cold therapy
  • Posture modification exercises
  • Massage
  • Epidural steroid injections

If several weeks or months of conservative treatment fail to provide a patient with adequate relief, surgery can start to become a consideration. Before undergoing a highly invasive traditional open spine procedure, reach out to the team at Laser Spine Institute for help. Since 2005 our board-certified surgeons+ have helped more than 60,000 patients find relief with minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery.

One of our Spine Care Consultants can help you receive a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.

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