Herniated disc — treatment options and protocol

A herniated disc occurs when a spinal disc develops a tear, causing inner disc material to be pushed into the spinal column. In some cases, disc material can result in nerve compression that causes severe pain. Most herniated discs occur in either the cervical (upper) or lumbar (lower) areas of the spine, though certain injuries or spine conditions can cause a herniated disc to develop in the thoracic (middle) spine.

If you have been diagnosed with a herniated disc, your next step should be working with your doctor to develop a treatment plan to relieve your pain and symptoms. Most patients are recommended to undergo six to eight weeks of conservative treatment before surgery is considered. For many cases of herniated disc, conservative treatment offers effective pain relief.

Standard herniated disc treatment protocol

Patients are typically recommended to undergo conservative treatment as an initial treatment plan for a herniated disc. Conservative treatment means any type of treatment that is nonsurgical. The most common types of conservative treatment include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Chiropractic care
  • Acupuncture
  • Pain medication
  • Steroid injections
  • Yoga
  • Stretches and exercises
  • Hot and/or cold compresses

It is important to stay patient during this phase of treatment, as finding the right combination of therapies can take some trial and error. It is also important to practice a healthy lifestyle that includes weight management, staying active, avoiding tobacco products and practicing good posture.

If spine surgery does become an option

For people who find little-to-no relief despite attempting a full course of conservative treatments, doctors may recommend exploring surgical options. For patients in this situation, the minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery.^ By using muscle-sparing techniques we are able to use a less than 1-inch incision and perform these procedures on an outpatient basis.

As you continue to research the treatment options available for a herniated disc, we encourage you to contact our caring team for information on and guidance to the best treatment option for your needs and lifestyle. When you speak with us, ask for your free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.

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