A medical history and a physical exam are all that’s needed to diagnose most herniated disc cases. A doctor will only order other tests if he/she suspects another condition affecting the nerves of the spine.
In most cases, treating a bulging disc use a conservative treatment plan. This usually clears up the symptoms within a few weeks or days in most people affected by a bulging disc.
Treating a Bulging Disc
A planned exercise program, avoiding painful positions, and pain-relieving medications are the usual treatment route for a bulging disc.
- Muscle relaxers. Patients are prescribed muscle relaxants by doctors if they show muscle spasms. The common side effects brought by these conditions include dizziness and sedation.
- Over-the-counter pain medications. Over-the-counter medications such as naproxen (Aleve) or ibuprofen (Motrin IB, Advil) are prescribed by doctors for mild to moderate pain.
- Radiating nerve pain is often the symptom of a herniated disc. Treating the pain can be helped by meds designed originally to control seizures.
- Cortisone injections. The area around the spinal nerves can be injected directly with corticosteroids to suppress inflammation. The needle can be safely guided using spinal imaging. Sometimes inflammation and swelling can be reduced by a course of oral steroids.
- Narcotics may be prescribed by the doctor if the pain does not improve using over-the-counter meds. These meds are used for short-term only because of the numerous side effects they cause.
A doctor may recommend physical therapy treatment if the pain is not resolved after a few weeks. The pain of a herniated disc is minimised with the designed exercises and positions taught by a physiotherapist or physical therapist.
Chronic back pain may be eased with some complementary and alternative medicine treatments. Some of them include:
- Chronic back of some people are relieved and function improved with the yoga practice. The combination of meditation, physical activity, and breathing exercises has proven effective for some people suffering from a herniated disc.
- Pain in the lower back lasting for over a month can be moderately helped by spinal manipulation. The neck is rarely treated by a chiropractor as it can cause certain kinds of strokes.
- People suffering from chronic pain in the lower back get short-term relief from this hands-on therapy.
- Neck pain and chronic lower back pain appears to be relieved by acupuncture. Although the results are seen as modest, some patients highly recommend this alternative treatment.
Surgery is usually the last recourse for most people suffering from a herniated disc. If symptoms do not improve after 6 weeks of conservative treatment, a doctor may suggest surgery. Other symptoms that need surgery include:
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Weakness or numbness
- Difficulty walking or standing
The protruding portion of the disc is removed by a surgeon during surgery. Removal of the entire disc rarely happens. In rare cases like this, metal hardware is used to fuse the vertebrae to provide stability to the spine. Artificial disc implantation is rarely suggested by surgeons.
Get your bulging disc looked at. Your family doctor is usually the first medical practitioner you’re most likely to consult for your lower back pain. However, other medical treatments also offer relief from lower back pain symptoms.