Conservative Herniated Disc Treatment and Things to Consider
If you have been experiencing symptoms of a herniated disc, see your doctor. After confirming your diagnosis, your doctor will explain the herniated disc treatment options available to you. In most cases, your doctor will first recommend conservative (nonsurgical) herniated disc treatment. Some methods of conservative treatment include bed rest, hot and cold packs, physical therapy, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and even epidural steroid injections. Your doctor will work with you to help determine which of these treatment methods - or combination of treatments - will work best for you. Often patients must go through a period of trial-and-error before they find the ideal combination of nonsurgical treatments to ease their symptoms.
Should You Consider Surgery as a Method of Herniated Disc Treatment?
The big question people often consider when stricken with an injury or illness is whether or not to consider surgery. When it comes to degenerative spine conditions that are not causing an emergency situation (such as cauda equina syndrome), doctors usually recommend against surgery at first, as it is generally reserved as a last-resort, elective herniated disc treatment method. Most doctors will insist on using conservative treatment because, many times, conservative treatment will relieve patients of their symptoms while the herniated disc heals on its own. There are situations, though, when the pain, stiffness, numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, muscle spasms, and general discomfort of a herniated disc hang around after nonsurgical treatment methods have been used for several months. If this is the case for you, you may want to talk to your doctor about spine surgery, do your own research, and perhaps get a second opinion about the surgical procedures available for your condition.
Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery
Since the 1940s, surgeons have used highly invasive techniques like spinal fusion to treat degenerative spinal conditions like herniated discs. However, minimally invasive spine surgery (also known as endoscopic spine surgery) has become a popular alternative to spinal fusion. For a few decades now, surgeons have used small scopes (cameras) connected to lasers and other surgical tools to perform endoscopic surgeries that are generally considered safer and more effective than open-incision surgery. Unlike open back surgery, minimally invasive laser spine surgery is an outpatient procedure that needs only local anesthesia and deep IV sedation. The incision made into the back is typically less than one inch in length. And, possibly the best feature of all, the recovery period is significantly shorter than that of open spine surgery like spinal fusion.