Overcoming your herniated disc symptoms with medication
A herniated disc in the neck or back can sometimes cause chronic, debilitating pain. This pain can prevent 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 and symptoms 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, drug allergies and other factors.
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 outer shell, 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.
Acetaminophen and other analgesics 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 analgesics to patients who require relief from their herniated disc symptoms but are unable to take NSAIDs.
Long-term use of analgesics should be avoided in order to prevent liver damage.
Prescription medication is sometimes reserved for patients whose herniated disc symptoms persist despite the use of over-the-counter NSAIDs and analgesics. When prescription medication is warranted, the drugs that are commonly used to treat herniated discs include the pain relievers oxycodone and hydrocodone, and the muscle relaxants carisoprodol and cyclobenzaprine.
Many physicians avoid prescribing narcotic pain relievers or muscle relaxants for an extended period of the time over concerns about addiction and drug abuse. In turn,
When medication isn’t enough
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 months, spine surgery may be recommended.
If this is your situation, we encourage you to research minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute as a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery.^
Our team can review your MRI report or CT scan and determine if you are a candidate for one of our minimally invasive procedures. 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 surgeons will remove the damaged portion of the herniated disc to relieve pressure on the nerve root. During 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 neck or back surgery. Typically, a patient with a herniated disc will receive a decompression surgery, but sometimes a stabilization surgery is required, depending on the specifics of your condition.
To find out if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery, contact us today. We can review your MRI report or CT scan and help you find the treatment option that is right for you.