Are complementary and alternative herniated disc treatments right for you?

The effectiveness of complementary and alternative herniated disc treatments remains open for debate, especially among members of the mainstream medical community.

Many patients searching for a more holistic approach to treating a herniating disc find these methods useful, though, and recent studies support the assertion that complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is as effective for some patients as more traditional forms of medical care, such as pain medication and exercise. With or without supporting evidence, millions of people turn to CAM every year to treat chronic and acute neck or back pain.

Forms of CAM used for herniated disc treatments

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrated Health, neck and back pain are the most common conditions for which CAM is used. These methods include:

  • Chiropractic care — Chiropractors use their hands and sometimes other tools to manipulate the joints of the spine and take pressure off nerve tissue. Chiropractors also work to educate patients about their condition.
  • Acupuncture — This treatment involves the insertion of very thin needles into the skin at specific points on the body, and is believed to balance the flow of energy and relieve pain.
  • Massage — Used in conjunction with other treatments, neck and back massages performed by a licensed massage therapist may help to reduce pain and stiffness.
  • Mind-body therapies — Hypnosis, talk therapy, biofeedback, relaxation therapy and the like have been shown to provide some patients with pain relief.

Many patients also focus on their diet and employ certain herbs and exotic botanicals, such as thunder god vine and cat’s claw, as supplemental herniated disc treatments for neck or back pain.

Talk to your physician before trying CAM for a herniated disc

Before beginning any form of CAM herniated disc treatments, make sure to ask your physician about the potential side effects. Your physician may be able to recommend practitioners as well. Finally, don’t expect overnight success — be as patient as you can. Neck or back pain often diminishes over time, with or without treatment, and it may require a combination of treatment methods to achieve satisfactory relief.

If conservative, complementary and/or alternative methods prove ineffective after several weeks or months, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about the benefits of one of our minimally invasive, outpatient procedures for managing the symptoms related to a herniated disc.

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