Medications for herniated disc relief
A herniated disc in the neck or back can sometimes cause chronic pain, preventing you from enjoying your hobbies or even performing simple daily activities, such as walking or sleeping. If you understand this type of pain and are searching for treatment options, your doctor may recommend that you begin with medication.
Certain pain medications work to effectively relieve the pain of a herniated disc by blocking the pain receptors from the pinched nerve to the brain. The specific medication that your physician recommends can vary based on your overall level of health, any allergies you have as well as other factors. To learn more about the types of pain medication used to treat a herniated disc, read the following article.
Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
This type of medication interferes with the body’s natural inflammatory response. Inflammation, which is one of the most common symptoms of a herniated disc, occurs when extruded disc material comes into contact with nerves in the disc’s tough outer layer, spinal nerve roots, spinal nerves or even the spinal cord itself. By reducing or eliminating inflammation, NSAIDs can often reduce the symptoms of herniated discs and other degenerative spine conditions. It should be noted that patients with some cardiovascular or gastrointestinal conditions may be advised to refrain from taking NSAIDs.
Over-the-counter pain medications
Acetaminophen and other pain medications interfere with the transfer of pain signals between the spinal cord and brain. Unlike NSAIDs, this type of medication has little to no effect on inflammation. For this reason, some physicians only recommend over-the-counter pain medications to patients who require relief from their herniated disc symptoms but are unable to take NSAIDs. Long-term use should be avoided in order to prevent liver damage and any dependence on the medication.
Prescription medication is sometimes reserved for patients whose herniated disc symptoms persist despite the use of over-the-counter NSAIDs and pain medications. When prescription medication is warranted, the drugs that are commonly used to treat herniated discs include the pain medications oxycodone and hydrocodone, and the muscle relaxants carisoprodol and cyclobenzaprine. Many physicians avoid prescribing narcotic pain medications or muscle relaxants for an extended period of the time over concerns about addiction and drug abuse.
When medication isn’t enough to relieve a herniated disc
Sometimes, a patient who is diagnosed with herniated discs will receive little to no relief from medication and other nonsurgical treatments such as physical therapy. When nonsurgical or conservative treatments prove ineffective after several weeks or months, spine surgery may be recommended. If this is your situation, we encourage you to research the safer and effective alternatives to traditional open back surgery^ offered at Laser Spine Institute.
Through a free MRI review,* our team can determine if you are a candidate for one of our minimally invasive procedures and help you find the treatment option that is right for you. To treat a herniated disc, we may recommend a minimally invasive decompression surgery or, in some cases, a minimally invasive stabilization surgery.
During our decompression surgery, our board-certified surgeons+ will remove part of the damaged portion of the herniated disc to relieve pressure on the nerve root. While our stabilization surgery will remove the entire herniated disc and insert an artificial disc into the now-empty space to stabilize the spine.
Both procedures are performed through a small incision and do not require the cutting or tearing of surrounding muscles, which means our patients can experience a shorter recovery time and lower risk of complication than patients who choose traditional open spine surgery.^ Typically, a patient with a herniated disc will receive a decompression surgery, but sometimes a stabilization surgery is required, depending on the severity of your condition.
As the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery, Laser Spine Institute has helped more than 75,000 patients find lasting relief from their chronic spine conditions, like a herniated disc. To learn more about our minimally invasive spine procedures and how we can help you on the road to recovery, contact our dedicated team today.