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The Ultimate Back Pain Relief Tips Blog

Herniated Disc - Part 5: The Most Common Treatments and What You Need to Know About Them

Posted by Illinois Back Institute on Fri, Jun 26, 2015 @ 05:08 PM

Herniated_Disc5This is Part Five in our series all about Herniated Discs. If you missed Part Four, Click Here!

So far in this series about Herniated Discs we have talked about:

  • What a Herniated Disc is
  • What causes them
  • What are their most common symptoms

And we also showed you a short video we made to help further explain those points, including some animation that helps to demonstrate how a Herniated Disc occurs and how it can cause such extreme pain.

Now that we have covered the how and why of Herniated Discs, it is time to talk about how to treat them. This part is going to focus on the most common treatments that doctors prescribe for Herniated Discs, and what you need to know about them.

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There are several different treatments for Herniated Discs, ranging from all natural treatments to more invasive ones, which can eventually include surgery. When doctors are treating a patient with a Herniated Disc they will usually begin with the least aggressive treatment possible, to see how the injury and the patient react. If the treatment is not working, the doctor will get more and more aggressive with what they prescribe. The main problem with these treatments is that none of them treat the actual cause of the herniation in the disc. They only cover up the pain, so it will almost always come back.

The treatment used also tends to vary based on the severity of the Herniated Disc and how much pain the patient is in. The basic degrees of severity that a patient may fall into are as follows:

  • If the patient is only experiencing mild pain or discomfort from their Herniated Disc, the doctor will usually just tell them to take non-prescription pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs such as NSAIDs, and order them to "take it easy" and see if the injury will heal on its own. While this can work for some, for many people over-the-counter pain medications are not strong enough, and most people are not able to "take it easy" due to work, family obligations, etc.
  • If that doesn't work or the pain is too severe, the doctor may decide to prescribe physical or chiropractic therapy, prescription drugs, or both.
    • Physical therapy is used to strengthen the muscles in your back around the Herniated Disc, which can help lessen your pain for a little while but doesn't treat the actual disc.
    • Chiropractic therapy is done to loosen up your joints to increase mobility and range of motion, but is usually only temporary.
    • Prescription medications, including narcotics, are usually ordered by the doctor for when over-the-counter ones are not working. They help relieve the pain temporarily, but can cause dangerous side effects, and are very habit-forming.

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  • At this point, if the stronger prescription drugs and therapies are not helping with the pain, the doctor may recommend more invasive procedures.
    • The first thing they would most likely try is one or more spinal injections. These are usually epidural shots given directly into the spine in the area of the Herniated Disc. The main purpose of these shots is to help reduce inflammation around the disc, which in turn reduces your pain. While these are usually effective for a while, they often eventually wear off and the pain returns.
    • The last resort option is surgery. While surgery can get rid of the pain, it can also be very risky. The most common one for Herniated Discs is fusion surgery, where the surgeon fuses together the vertebrae above and below the damaged disc to eliminate pressure on the disc. The problem with this surgery is that while it eliminates the pressure on one disc, it doubles the pressure on the discs directly above and below it. This can cause them to fail much faster than usual, which then tends to lead to more surgery. Also, the surgery can sometimes fail, leaving the patient in even more pain than before.


Each of these treatments or drugs may work when first used, and provide temporary relief from the pain for a period of time. But eventually, they almost always stop working because they don't treat what is causing the Herniated Disc. This is because these treatments are only temporary solutions; they only cover up the injury and mask the pain, so the Herniated Disc is still there and the pain will eventually return.

Herniated Discs are difficult to treat because none of the traditional methods for treating them, like the ones mentioned above, do anything to treat the actual disc. What makes our treatment different and better is that we specifically target the Herniated Discs that are causing your pain, and we heal them. We will discuss how our treatment does this in a future part, so look for it coming soon!

Remember, this is just the fifth part in our series about Herniated Discs. Part 6 will continue our discussion, including talking about some common natural treatments for Herniated Discs that you can do at home. 

The key to our treatment is solving the underlying cause. If you have a Herniated Disc and are suffering, we can help you. Call today to schedule a Free Consultation at 855-382-4054, or click on this link to schedule online:

Click Here For a Free Herniated Disc Consultation