What should I do if I think I have a slipped disc?
If you think you have a slipped disc, the first thing to do is to visit your physician. However, it’s important to understand that the term “slipped disc” actually is a colloquialism that could refer to one of two degenerative spine conditions: a bulging disc or a herniated disc. A bulging disc involves the protrusion of the outer wall of an intervertebral disc beyond its normal boundary. A herniated disc involves the extrusion of the disc’s gel-like nucleus material into the spinal canal through a tear in the outer wall. Both of these conditions can be caused by traumatic injury, but are much more commonly associated with spinal degeneration that occurs as part of the aging process.
Conservative treatments for a slipped disc
If your physician comes up with an initial diagnosis of a bulging or herniated disc, chances are you’ll be asked to try a number of conservative, non-surgical treatments designed to reduce swelling and alleviate symptoms such as pain, tingling, numbness or muscle weakness. These conservative treatments include:
- Rest – a short period only, to allow potential swelling to diminish; controlled movement is recommended to improve joint flexibility and prevent muscle atrophy
- Anti-inflammatory medicine – helps reduce swelling
- Analgesic medication – helps control pain
- Exercise – strength and flexibility are important; never begin an exercise regimen before consulting a physician
- Physical therapy – work with a licensed therapist
- Epidural injections – “nerve blocks” involve a series of injections of pain medication into the back
- Alternative methods – these include chiropractic therapy, acupuncture, electric stimulation and yoga.
Minimally invasive alternative to fusion
If chronic pain persists after weeks or months of conservative treatment, your physician may recommend surgery as an option. If so, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn how one of our minimally invasive, outpatient procedures may be able to help you find meaningful relief from neck and back pain.