If you've been diagnosed with a lumbar herniated disc, you probably have experienced recurring pain in the lower back or in your legs. In severe cases causing ongoing pain, surgery may be necessary to repair one of the cushioned spinal discs. Before going under the knife, however, it's best to seek alternative herniated disc treatment options. Your physician or chiropractor may offer options that might be to your advantage.
Here are a few common alternatives to surgery for a lumbar herniated disc:
1. Physical Therapy, Also Known as Physiotherapy
In most cases, physical therapy to treat a lumbar herniated disc may only be performed if a physician prescribes this treatment. It's typically performed by a licensed physical therapist, with 30-60 minutes sessions once or twice a week. Sessions may continue over the course of several weeks or several months.
Before you begin a regimen of physical therapy, you'll most likely require an evaluation. Tell the therapist your medical history, including prior injuries and medications you are taking. The therapist may test your reflexes, as well as muscle control and your range of motion. He or she may then be able to map out a feasible plan for your therapy program.
Physical therapy for a lumbar herniated disc may include back-strengthening exercises to help strengthen core muscles. This may also help you regain mobility and flexibility in your back. You may use special equipment in the therapy facility, or you may be instructed on how to perform simply lower back stretching techniques. You'll most likely continue some simply back exercises at home as well.
2. Applications of Heat and Ice, at Alternating Intervals
Some individuals respond better to the use of heat, while others may find relief using cold compresses. Your physical therapist may recommend alternating between both applications to see which application works best, or if a combination of both is most beneficial. You may be instructed to lie on your stomach or on your back, depending upon which position feels most comfortable for you.
A hot pack may be placed under your lower back for approximately 15-25 minutes. After a few minutes, an ice pack may be applied for the same amount of time. If you feel any discomfort, it's important to let your therapist know, so the treatment may be adjusted as needed.
3. Electrical Nerve Stimulation
This type of therapy is performed with the use of an electrical device that delivers a current directly into the nerves and muscles. Some individuals find relief after only a few sessions. Electrotherapy, as it is often called, is often used for both acute and chronic pain. It is advised to use this type of advice only under the supervision of a licensed professional.
4. Manual Spinal Manipulation
This technique is often performed by a chiropractor. In some cases, it is combined with acupuncture for maximum benefits. Patients prefer this technique, as it is non-invasive and doesn't have a high incidence of side effects that some medications may produce. In spinal manipulation, the doctor may perform various massage techniques to the spinal column and lower back.
5. Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Medication
In some cases, pain and inflammation may be relieved with a course of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, also known as NSAIDS. Alternatively, your doctor may suggest a cortisone injection into the lower back.
A downside to taking prescription anti-inflammatory medication would be possible side effects. Some individuals are sensitive to these drugs, and they have been known to cause gastric upset, or in some cases stomach bleeding.
If you decide to check it out and try the above mentioned alternative therapy methods for your lumbar herniated disc problems, discuss your concerns with your doctor. If you're given a prescription, it's essential for you to inform your doctor of other medications you're taking.