Herniated Discs: Understanding Your Treatment Options

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Discs are located in between the spinal vertebrae to provide support to the spinal column. Discs have a tough outer layer and a soft center; if a disc develops a small tear and the soft internal tissue bulges out, the condition is called a herniated disc. Living with a herniated disc can be very uncomfortable and painful; in some situations, the tissue from the disc may protrude enough to pinch a nerve, which can cause nerve pain or numbness. If you have a herniated disc, you are sure to want relief from the pain. Continue reading to learn more about common treatment options for a herniated disc.

Ice and Heat

Doctors typically employ conservative treatment options when a person has a herniated disc. Depending on the severity of the herniation, it is possible for a herniated disc to heal on its own with time as the tissue is reabsorbed into the disc. Your doctor may recommend starting out by using a combination of ice and heat on the affected area to help relieve the pain.

Physical Therapy

While the thought of movement and exercise may not sound appealing, physical therapy can be very beneficial when a person has a herniated disc. Chronic back conditions are very common, and many physical therapists specialize in treating people who have herniated discs. When you attend physical therapy for your back pain, you will be guided through gentle stretches and exercise that are designed to improve movement in your back and minimize pain.

Epidural Injections

When the pain of a herniated disc interferes with your day-to-day life, your doctor may recommend epidural injections. An epidural injection involves using a needle to administer medication to the epidural space in your spine. An epidural injection helps reduce inflammation around the herniated disc as well as provide extended pain relief. 


If you are experiencing extreme pain after several weeks of conservative treatment, your doctor may consider prescribing oral narcotics. Due to the fact that it is easy for a person to become addicted to narcotic pain medication, you will be closely monitored if a prescription is given.


When a herniated disc shows no sign of improvement after the use of non-invasive treatment, surgery may be needed. If you have a severely herniated disc, you may need a discectomy, which is a surgical procedure that removes the protruding disc tissue. A discectomy is a major surgery, so you will need to make plans for the weeks following surgery as you recover. 

For more information on herniated disc treatments, contact an organization such as Southwest Florida Neurosurgical & Rehab Associates.