Types of herniated disc treatments — conservative and surgical options

If a herniated disc has turned out to be the underlying cause of the pain and discomfort disrupting your life, then you are now almost certainly looking for effective and lasting treatment. When a spinal disc — usually weakened from the aging process — develops a tear on the outer shell due to internal pressure, part of the gel-like center can be pushed out.

Herniated discs can often go undetected because they don’t always cause symptoms. But if any disc material comes into contact with the densely packed nerves in the spinal column, the extra pressure can cause pain, numbness and muscle weakness. While these symptoms can be disruptive to your quality of life, patients are very often able to find relief by working with their doctor to develop a treatment plan.

Conservative herniated disc treatments

Once a diagnosis is confirmed, your doctor will help develop a course of herniated disc treatments best suited to your exact situation. Conservative nonsurgical options can be very effective in relieving symptoms while your body works to break down the extruded disc material through a process called resorption. The treatment plan may include one or more of the following:

  • Over-the-counter or prescription pain medication. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and pain relievers can control the pain until nerve inflammation subsides and resorption is complete.
  • Physical therapy, exercise, stretching. A trained therapist can develop an exercise program aimed at strengthening the neck and back to prevent future injury.
  • Alternative medicine. Some people have found success using chiropractic therapy, acupuncture and other methods that are currently outside of mainstream medical practice.

Surgery for herniated disc treatments

If conservative treatment is unable to provide relief after several weeks or months, surgery may become an option. Traditional open back surgery involves overnight hospitalization, a large incision and a potentially difficult recovery. Severe disc deterioration can require the insertion of stabilizing hardware to fuse the spine after removal of disc material or even the entire disc.

Another option is minimally invasive spine surgery that can treat a herniated disc with a small muscle-sparing incision. Our skilled surgeons can also perform minimally invasive outpatient stabilization procedures that are an alternative to traditional fusions. Contact Laser Spine Institute to learn more about our minimally invasive outpatient procedures.

To find out if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures, our dedicated team can help you receive a no-cost review of your MRI or CT scan.*

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