What treatments are available for a torn disc?

There are a number of treatments available for a torn spinal disc — also known as a ruptured or herniated disc. These treatments may include medications, exercise and physical therapy, epidural steroid injections, alternative and complementary therapies, such as yoga and massage, and potentially even surgery. However, when evaluating torn disc treatment options, it’s important to keep in mind the nature of the condition and what each treatment can do.

The spine’s discs typically become more brittle as part of the natural aging process. As a result, small tears can develop in a disc’s hard outer wall. Sometimes, some of a disc’s soft inner core can leak out through such a tear into the spinal canal. At this point, the herniated disc material can compress a nerve root or even the spinal cord itself. The tears themselves cannot be repaired, but treatment is available to help address the resulting symptoms.

Conservative torn disc treatment

When first starting torn disc treatment, people are usually advised to begin with conservative, nonsurgical treatments. Physicians often recommend various medications for pain and inflammation, along with exercise (including at-home stretching exercises and sessions with a physical therapist) and lifestyle modifications, such as weight loss, if applicable. For many people, these therapies can adequately alleviate torn disc symptoms.

When used as part of a comprehensive torn disc treatment plan, complementary therapies can also be beneficial. Options such as yoga, aromatherapy, acupuncture and massage therapy can help relieve pain and otherwise benefit individuals with herniated discs.

Surgical torn disc treatment

Although the majority of people who experience a torn disc do not require surgical treatment, there are some cases where surgery is necessary. For instance, if symptoms do not respond to a variety of conservative treatments or if symptoms get progressively worse with time, surgery might become an option.

Depending on a patient’s specific needs, torn disc surgery may be performed as a traditional, open spine operation or a minimally invasive procedure. At Laser Spine Institute, our minimally invasive procedures are offered as alternatives to open neck or back operations for certain patients. Our patients are actually encouraged to be up and walking within a few hours of surgery. To learn more, contact us today. We can provide you with an MRI review at no cost* to help you determine if you’re a candidate our outpatient procedures.