Typically the first thing that crosses a patient’s mind that has recently been diagnosed with a herniated disc is whether or not spinal surgery will be required. It is a common concern, due to both the risks as well as the cost of most surgical procedures. You should discuss your treatment options with a qualified doctor to find out if your herniated disc will require surgery, or if other treatments will be effective.
Most patients find that other, less intrusive treatments are as effective as surgery. For most patients suffering from a herniated or slipped disc, the treatment is focused on pain relief. There are a variety of ways to treat pain and inflammation that include; anti-inflammatory drugs, pain killers, heat therapy, ultrasound, cortisone injections and most important of all, therapeutic exercises. Most doctors or physical therapists will recommend one or a combination of these treatments for a herniated disc.
Pain treatment should always be a part of an effective treatment plan, but keep in mind that it should only be one component. The major downside to pain treatment is that it only addresses the pain and does nothing to treat the underlying cause of the herniated disc. It is understandable that you want to treat the pain, as immediate relief is the only way you can continue your life uninterrupted, but you will need to see a back pain specialist to address the cause and treatments.
Before settling on a treatment for your herniated disc, you should work with your physician to determine the cause of the herniated disc so that the treatment can address underlying causes. Pain treatment alone will not heal a herniated disc.
The important thing to remember about a herniated disc is that they do not just spring up overnight. Unless you have recently experienced a trauma to your spine, the herniation will occur over time, which means you should pay attention to signs of mild back pain. Aside from trauma, the most common cause for the pressure on the spinal discs is muscle imbalance.
How does this imbalance occur? Well the process is quite simple; placing pressure one side of the muscle causes the fluid inside the spinal disc to seep out. Think of it like a deli sandwich eaten with one hand compared to two. By eating the sandwich with one hand you’re allowing the sandwich fixings to ooze out of one side but eating with two places equal pressure on the bread so the fixings go one place–in your mouth. The muscle imbalance will worsen over time if left untreated.
A spinal herniated may also occur when a muscle imbalance causes your hip and spine to move out of proper alignment. When this happens the discs in the spine are forced to sustain more weight on one side of the body than the other, eventually causing the disc to wear down and herniated. In some instances this imbalance can cause a spinal disc to rupture.
Before your herniated disc requires surgery there are alternative treatments you should try to relieve pain and treat symptoms. Currently there are about 5 actions you can take to reduce your pain that are more effective and safer than spinal surgery.
Try these alternatives to see if they prove effective for you:
- Increase fluid intake to reduce inflammation. The best option is plain water rather than soda or juice or other artificially flavored drinks. Improving your diet can also help reduce swelling and reduce too much fibrin with proteolytic enzymes.
- Use hot and cold therapy to stop muscle spasms and improve your range of motion and increase the flow of oxygen-rich blood. The best heat therapy is Far Infrared Heat, also known as FIR.
- Inversion therapy can decompress the spinal disc, and the best thing is that you can purchase your own inversion table rather than endure costly treatments.
- Get rid of pain-causing trigger points by eliminating referred pain. These small contractions of the muscles can come on suddenly and cause a great deal of pain.
- Perform targeted stretches & exercises to improve postural dysfunctions. A physical therapist can provide you with stretches and exercises to correct a muscle imbalance, which is likely the underlying cause of your herniated disc.
Ask your physician which of these treatments he or she recommends before you require surgery to treat the problem.