A herniated disc is one of those conditions that can hijack your life, making even the smallest movement a source of agony. In fact, low back pain (and 95% of herniated discs occur in your lumbar spine) is one of the leading causes of missed workdays in the United States. Thankfully, only 10% of lumbar herniated discs end up requiring surgery, largely because of the effective tools we can apply to remedy the condition.
Here at Ani Medical Group, led by fellowship-trained and board-certified orthopedic and spine surgeon Dr. Nasser Ani, our goal is to always try and find the path of least resistance when it comes to healing.
While surgery certainly has its place, if there’s a way to help our patients in Hazlet and Old Bridge, New Jersey, overcome medical issues without surgery, we prefer that route. And there are three ways we can help with a herniated disc, with nary a scalpel in sight.
Here are the three nonsurgical solutions we recommend for remedying your herniated disc.
When you come in with a herniated disc, our first mission is to deal with the immediate pain, which we can do with muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatories. These medications tackle the problem from two different angles.
First, when your disc slips out of place, bulges, or leaks, it irritates the nerve roots in the area, which causes inflammation. This is a perfectly natural response as your body protects the area while it sends in resources to help repair the damage.
Unfortunately, this response only exacerbates the problem, further irritating the nerve root, which can lead to considerable pain. Through anti-inflammatory medications, we can reduce the pressure on the nerve root to bring you relief.
Another perfectly natural response is tension in your muscles, but this also serves to make matters worse. Here again, your body is simply trying to protect itself, and when it senses a problem or weakness, the tissue surrounding the area jumps in to protect the area. This is why muscle spasms can often accompany a herniated disc, making muscle relaxers so effective at relieving the pain.
2. Physical therapy
Once we’ve addressed your immediate pain and diagnosed the degree of the herniated disc, we want to get you started on physical therapy (PT) as quickly as possible. While most people think of PT as just another session in the gym, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
While there is a fair amount of strengthening and range-of-motion work, PT also includes hot and cold therapies, as well as massage therapy. The multipronged approach of PT is designed to alleviate your immediate discomfort, while also strengthening your low back to prevent the condition from wreaking further havoc.
Ultimately, PT serves as both a short- and long-term solution for a herniated disc.
If your pain persists after a few weeks of medications and PT, we may recommend getting a little more aggressive in your treatment. Many of our patients have had great success with epidural steroid injections.
As the name suggests, we inject a combination of a local anesthetic and a steroid directly into the epidural space surrounding the affected disc. The local anesthetic goes to work immediately to numb the nerve root, while the steroid provides longer-lasting protection against inflammation.
These injections can offer relief that last weeks, months, or even a year, depending upon how your body reacts.
The bottom line is that we have several ways to resolve your herniated disc pain without resorting to surgery. Just give us a call to get started, or use the easy online booking tool to set up an appointment.