A majority of people who have a slipped disc in their lower back (lumbar region) will be offered conservative treatment. This is not surgery. This includes relaxation, position, painkillers or other local anesthetics as well manual and physical therapies.
While some slipped discs cause no symptoms, others can lead to severe back problems. A slipped disc in the lower back (lumbar) can cause sciatic nerve pressure and pain that radiates down the leg. A majority of people heal from a slipped disc within six weeks. You have a few options to relieve your pain and increase mobility.
Initial Pain Control for Lumbar Herniated Disc
The most immediate need to manage intense pain is when it first appears. These are the most common pain management options.
- Ice application. A cold pack or ice may be used to help reduce swelling and inflammation associated with lumbar herniated discs. An ice massage may also prove beneficial. Ice works best for back pain that has been present for 48 hours.
- Pain medications. To treat inflammation and pain, the doctor may prescribe non-steroidal antiinflammatory medications (NSAIDs) that are not prescribed.
- Relaxants for muscles. Prescription medications may be prescribed to relieve muscle spasms that may occur from lumbar herniated discs.
- Heat therapy. Heat therapy is a great way to relieve pain from muscle spasms within 48 hours. You have options: heat pads, hot compresses, or adhesive heat wraps. You may prefer moist heat such as a hot tub.
- Ice and heat. For some, alternating hot/cold packs can provide the greatest pain relief.
It is best to limit bed rest for severe pain to one or two nights. Extended rest can lead to stiffness, more pain, and increased discomfort. It is best to keep your activity light and continue moving, taking breaks when necessary. It is best to avoid heavy lifting and strenuous exercise.
Herniated Disc Medication
Different people may experience a herniated spine in different ways. While one person may not feel any symptoms, another person may experience severe pain and may require medication.
Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Medication
The nerves and soft tissue around the herniated disc may cause some of the discomfort associated with a herniated disc. A slipped disc can be caused by an inflamed or enlarged nerve. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications can reduce swelling and relieve the pain.
Aspirin, naproxen, ibuprofen and naproxen all make up the most popular nonsteroidal antiinflammatory medications. They are all available without prescription. Your doctor can advise you on how to use them. A doctor may prescribe stronger anti-inflammatory medication if the herniated disc is causing more severe pain than can be treated with over-the counter medications.
When a disc slips out of its place between vertebrae, pinching a nerve, electrical signals from the nerve to the nearby muscles tissue can be disrupted. This can lead to painful muscle spasms. Muscle relaxant medications can help ease spasms and pain so you can move more easily. For a week to two weeks, your doctor might prescribe these medications. The pain from muscle spasms usually goes away on their own after that.
Prescription Pain Relievers
The pain that can result from a herniated nerve pinching can be very severe. While over-the-counter painkillers may be effective in relieving pain, prescription pain relievers may be recommended by your doctor if necessary. These medications can only be used for one week. They will not make your pain worse until you are prescribed a muscle relaxant.
Corticosteroids may be recommended by your doctor if you are experiencing neck and back pain that is not being relieved by other medications. Steroids reduce inflammation around the herniated disc and relieve pain by taking pressure off an injured nerve. Only a prescription is required. Steroids can typically be used for 7-10 days. Your doctor will then reassess your symptoms and recommend any additional treatment.
Overweight can cause or exacerbate spine problems. This is because excess weight, especially in front, can pull the spine’s spine, vertebrae, and joints out of alignment. A herniated disc or being overweight can cause nerve damage and increase pain.
An orthopedic doctor might work with a physical medicine doctor or psychiatrist to recommend physical therapy. Physical therapy can often relieve pain and prevent further damage from a herniated disc.
To treat symptoms of a herniated or bulging disc, it is important to strengthen the core muscles (the abdominal, lower thighs, and buttocks). These muscles will weaken the spine, which can cause it to bear more weight. This additional pressure could lead to instability or worsen existing spine problems. An exercise program can be designed by a physical therapist that will strengthen these core muscle groups. This can help improve your posture, alleviate pressure on nerves affected due to a slipped disc and reduce pain.
The physical therapist might also recommend complementary treatments that can improve overall function, make you feel better, and build core muscles. You can also use massage therapy, stretching, heat and ice treatments to help.
Corticosteroid injections for herniated disc pain are an option to oral corticosteroids. In most cases, an injection is only recommended after all other treatments have failed. Steroids have strong anti-inflammatory properties. They can be injected directly into epidural spaces, which is the fluid-filled space surrounding the spinal cord.
The effects of injected steroids on pain relief can last for as long as a year. However, injections may not be effective for everyone. It is difficult to know the effectiveness of an injectable before it is administered, but steroids can provide long-lasting relief for many people. It is best to use steroids just before starting physical therapy. This will allow strength-building exercises and painless injections.
Acupuncture, a medical technique that uses very thin needles to insert into the skin at specific points, is known as acupuncture. Acupuncture can stimulate healing by increasing blood circulation by targeting specific points along “meridians”, which correspond with the nerve pathways affected in a herniated spine. Endorphins, which are natural pain relief agents, may be released by the body through acupuncture.
Manual therapy and treatments based upon physical stimuli
There are two options for treating sciatica caused by a slipped disc. One is manual therapy, and the other is based on physical stimuli. Manual treatment can include massages, and other special techniques to relax tight muscles or joints. Treatments that are based on physical stimuli involve the use of cooling and heating methods to alleviate pain. These therapies are sometimes called passive treatments because the patient doesn’t need to actively take part. Some common treatments are:
- Massages: Many massage techniques can be used to relax muscles, ease tension, and other purposes.
- Heating and cooling are available: You can use hot packs or heating patches, take a hot bath, go to the sauna, or use an infrared light lamp. The heat can help relax tight muscles. Ice packs such as cold wraps and gel packs can be used to soothe nerve irritations.
- Ultrasound therapy is a treatment that uses sound waves to treat the lower back. The body is relaxed and heat is generated by the small vibrations.
Passive treatments do not seem to be able to speed up or alleviate pain. However, many people find heat or massages pleasant and relaxing.
Traditional Asian medicine
The following treatment options are based on traditional Asian medicine:
- Acupuncture is the practice of inserting fine needles into specific points on the body. This is thought to ease the pain.
- Reiki: Reiki is a Japanese treatment to relieve pain through specific hand placements.
- Moxibustion (Heat Transfer): This technique heats specific points of the body by heating them with glowing sticks or needles made of mugwort (“Moxa”) near them.
There are few high-quality studies of these treatments and no evidence that they relieve pain. Although there are no strong evidence to support the idea that acupuncture might reduce pain, it is the only treatment with which we have any data.
Relaxation, movement and positioning
In the past, those with slipped discs were advised to stay in bed for a minimum of one to two days. People are now advised to keep active, rather than stay in bed. It is important to get up and move around as long as possible.
Studies have shown that exercise can improve mobility. But, it wasn’t shown that back pain can be affected by whether people do exercise or not. You should continue to do your normal daily activities even if you are experiencing pain. It has been shown that exercise can prevent back pain returning.
You might also consider relaxation exercises to ease your back pain. Your mind can have an impact on how you perceive pain and how you manage it. You can rest your back and lie down if the pain is severe. Many people find the “psoas” position to be comfortable. While you are lying down, elevate your legs so that your knees bend at 90 degrees. However, it is important that you don’t stay inactive for too much.
Injections at the spine
Injection therapy mainly uses local anesthetics and/or inflammation-reducing medications like steroids. These drugs are administered to the area immediately around the nerve root affected. There are many ways to do this. The medication is injected directly into the nerve root at the spine canal. This can cause a temporary numbing of the nerve root.
The medication is injected into the epidural area (“epidural injection”) during lumbar epidural. The epidural space is the area that surrounds the spinal cord and spinal fluid. It is also the location of nerve roots. The spine is monitored with x-rays and computer tomography. This ensures that the injection is delivered to the correct place.
Side effects can include nerve damage, bleeding, infection, or infection if injections are made close to the spine. Treatments that involve injections for a longer time can cause muscle weakness. This is also due to radiation exposure caused by x-rays. This is why a restricted number of injections are allowed. Multiple injections are a good idea. It is worth considering the pros and cons.
The effectiveness of injections in relieving sciatica has been proven by several studies. Because of this, people found it easier to move around and do their everyday activities. Steroid injections appear to be more effective than other types.
Staying active and treating your pain
Acute low-back pain has a common cause that is not clear and usually goes away within days. Your body is likely to heal the problem in six weeks, even if it is caused by a slipped disc. The speed of recovery can be affected by many treatments. Massages or hot packs may help you feel better. For severe pain, you can seek short-term relief by getting into a position to reduce strain on the back or by using anti-inflammatory medications or local anesthetics. However, the body usually does the majority of the work.
If the slipped disc symptoms persist for longer than a few weeks, it may be possible to have surgery to relieve the pressure on affected nerves. Most experts agree that slipped disc surgery in Germany is more common than necessary. It might be a good idea to seek a second opinion from your doctor if you’re not sure if you should have surgery.
It is especially important to keep active, even when you are in pain. Not only will exercise keep your body fit, but it can also improve your mood. It is essential to exercise regularly and maintain a strong core muscle (torso) in order to prevent back pain becoming chronic. Research has shown that exercise can reduce back pain.