If you’ve been diagnosed with a slipped, ruptured, or herniated disc (these terms are often used interchangeably), you may be considering treatment. Not all herniated discs cause pain, and sometimes symptoms subside on their own. However, if you’re talking with your physician about your treatment options, educate yourself.
It’s a good plan to have a list of questions written down before each visit to a spine specialist. Three important questions to ask before any herniated treatment are shown below.
Is this treatment to help relieve your symptoms or is it supposed to address the underlying condition causing your pain? Some treatments are may be to help alleviate pain while your body slowly heals itself; others such as surgery are to treat the cause.
Should you expect immediate results or a longer recovery? Some surgical treatments such as a microdiscectomy can relieve pain almost immediately because a portion of the disc that is compressing the nerve is removed. Other surgeries and therapies might take time to take effect as the body recovers and grows stronger.
No one treatment fits all. Not only can a herniated disc occur in the lumbar spine (lower back) and the cervical spine (the neck) but it can also occur in the thoracic spine (upper and middle back). And the amount of discomfort can be negligible to excruciating, and pain is not necessarily dependent on the severity of the herniation.
So, asking your doctor about alternative treatment options can allow you to find the one that best fits you. Are there lifestyle changes that could help? Could gentle exercises help? What about over-the-counter medications?
An amalgamation of herniated disc treatments can be used to find what works best for you, including pain medications, physical therapy, steroid injections, chiropractic therapy, and education in better movement.
If you’re considering herniated disc surgery, you probably have been dealing with neck or back pain for at least 6 weeks, and more conservative treatments have not brought relief. Unless you have severe and advancing weakness in your limbs or disability because of the affected lasting nerve damage, conservative treatment is generally recommended first. But if these less invasive spine treatments have not brought relief, you might be considering lumbar or cervical disc surgery from an orthopedic surgeon or neurosurgeon.
Our fellowship-trained neurosurgeons have additional training specific to minimally invasive and open spine procedures after their residency. This specialization is why NSPC neurosurgeons are leading spine doctors in the New York region. If you are looking for a second opinion or wonder if minimally invasive spine surgery might be right for you, give us a call and make an appointment with one of our specialists in the Long Island area today.