Nonsurgical Treatments for a Lumbar Herniated Disc

Nonsurgical Treatments for a Lumbar Herniated Disc

Within the first six weeks it is reasonable to try different medications, modalities and therapies to try to alleviate the pain from the lumbar herniated disc and to give the disc herniation time to heal. With time the body can reabsorb the disc herniation, and if the symptoms start to abate within the six-week period, continued nonsurgical treatment is warranted.

Chiropractic and Exercise for a Herniated Disc

If the pain is severe and/or if symptoms persist for 2 to 4 weeks, a trial of either chiropractic or osteoapathic manipulation, and/or physical therapy is warranted. The goals of chiropractic/osteopathic manipulation and physical therapy are to reduce pain and to allow the patient to return to a normal level of functioning. For more information, see the following resources:

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Medications for a Herniated Disc

Medications may also help reduce the pain from a herniated disc, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can reduce the inflammation caused by the disc herniation.

Epidural Steroid Injections for a Herniated Disc

Either oral steroid medication or an epidural injection may achieve a stronger anti-inflammatory effect, although their use is a little riskier, and neither has been clearly shown to change the natural history of whether or not a patient will need surgery. Approximately 50% of the time, an epidural steroid injection will provide pain relief that may last from one week up to one year. Up to three epidural injections may be done in a one-year time frame (at least two weeks apart). For more information, see the following resources:

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Article written by: Peter F. Ullrich, Jr., MD