Medications for a torn disc

A torn disc may cause burning, shooting pains, tingling, numbness, weakness and muscle spasms in your arms and legs. While there are several pain medications for a torn disc available to you, always consult with your physician to find out which ones are best for your situation.

Why is a torn disc painful?

The type of medication your physician suggests might depend on how severe your symptoms are. Let’s first discuss what makes the condition painful.

Discs of cartilage between the vertebrae of the spine act as shock absorbers for the body, and are made up of a gel-like inner material that’s contained in a fibrous cartilage outer casing. As we age, the spinal discs dehydrate. As the discs dry out, they lose their elastic properties and weaken.

A torn disc may develop if the outer wall of the disc breaks or cracks open and the inner material oozes out into the spinal canal. This condition — also known as a herniated or ruptured disc — may be painful if the extruded material impinges upon the spinal cord or a nerve root. Pain may be evident at the area of impingement and other symptoms of numbness, weakness, tingling, cramping and pain can radiate into the limbs.

Types of medications

Your physician may recommend medications based on your level of discomfort. The following are a few pain medications used to treat mild to severe torn disc pain:

  • NSAIDs — Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs include aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen. They are generally used to treat mild to moderate pain by reducing inflammation.
  • Opioids — Opioids are narcotic drugs such as morphine and codeine that are commonly used to treat moderate to severe pain. Stronger forms, such as oxycodone, may effectively alleviate severe torn disc symptoms.
  • Selective nerve root block (SNRB) — A mixture of a steroid and anesthetic is injected into or around the compressed nerve. The anesthetic serves to numb the affected area, while the steroid may help reduce irritation and inflammation. These injections are typically used in cases of moderate to severe pain. In addition, SNRBs are often used as a diagnostic tool help find which nerves are causing pain.
  • Epidural steroid injection — An epidural injection is slightly different from an SNRB, as the blend of steroid and anesthetic is injected into the epidural space that surrounds the spinal cord. These are generally recommended for severe pain.

Laser Spine Institute

Medications for a torn disc, as well as other conservative treatments, may not be successful in treating your symptoms. If you have been recommended for surgery but want an alternative to a highly invasive traditional open procedure, consider Laser Spine Institute and our minimally invasive decompression and stabilization procedures. These procedures are performed on an outpatient basis and do not require a long and difficult recovery period.^ Our orthopedic surgeons use advanced, minimally invasive techniques that have already helped more than 75,000 people find relief from neck and back pain. Contact Laser Spine Institute today to receive a review of your MRI report or CT scan and determine if you are a candidate for one of our procedures.