I’ve been diagnosed with a herniated disc — now what?

Like many other patients who have recently been diagnosed with a herniated disc, you may be wondering what your next steps are for pain relief. Will you need surgery? Where do you start finding answers?

These questions are natural but can quickly become overwhelming. It’s important to schedule an appointment with your doctor or spine care specialist to talk about the treatment options available to you and create a plan of action. You should also take this time to research both conservative and surgical treatment options to find pain relief.

Conservative, nonsurgical treatments

While you will need to work alongside your physician to find your optimal treatment regimen, there are some nonsurgical herniated disc treatments that are generally recommended to most patients. These treatments include:

  • Medication — Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen can help reduce inflammation and alleviate the pain caused by a herniated disc. If you have certain cardiovascular or gastrointestinal conditions, your physician may advise you to take an analgesic such as acetaminophen instead.
  • Hot/cold therapy — Applying heat to your neck or back can reduce muscle tension that may be contributing to your discomfort, while applying ice can help reduce inflammation and numb pain. Your physician may advise you to treat your herniated disc by applying heat and ice alternately, or instruct you to use one method exclusively.
  • Lifestyle modifications — If you are overweight, use tobacco products, or abuse alcohol, your physician may recommend that you alter your lifestyle. Reversing unhealthy habits can not only aid in healing your herniated disc but can also help prevent other degenerative spinal conditions from developing in the future.

Know when to consider surgery

Your physician may recommend surgical treatment for a herniated disc if nonsurgical treatments prove ineffective after several weeks or months. In the event that you are advised to undergo spine surgery, consider a minimally invasive procedure from Laser Spine Institute before you consent to an open spine operation.

Our minimally invasive spine surgery offers a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck or back surgery.^ The difference between our minimally invasive spine surgery and traditional open neck or back surgery is the approach to the spine. Our procedures require only a small incision and no muscle disruption, while traditional open spine surgery is performed through a large incision that cuts through the large muscles surrounding the spine. Because of this minimally invasive approach to the spine, our procedures offer a shorter recovery time^ and lower risk of complication compared to traditional open spine surgery.

Many of our patients with a herniated disc can often be treated with a minimally invasive decompression surgery. This type of procedure relieves pressure on the pinched nerve by removing a portion of the damaged disc. In some cases, a minimally invasive stabilization surgery may be necessary to replace the disc altogether with an artificial one. This adds stability to the spine.

It’s time to take the next step on your journey to pain relief. Contact Laser Spine Institute for a review of your MRI report or CT scan to determine if you are a candidate for one of our minimally invasive procedures.

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