If you have a herniated disc, you may have pain bad enough that you have difficulty walking or sitting without discomfort. When you experience back pain, especially if it happens after a recent fall or injury, you should seek medical help so you get the appropriate treatment. However, a herniated disc often develops with age and you might not be able to pinpoint when it happened, but if you have pain, muscle weakness, or numbness in your back or extremities, let your doctor know. Sometimes, surgery is necessary to treat a herniated disc, but it's also possible some of the following treatments will help.
Treatments You Might Try At Home
Talk to your doctor before giving yourself home treatments so you don't do anything that might make your condition worse. For instance, you may find a certain body position keeps your pain away, but you don't want to stay sedentary for too long. This weakens your muscles, and it could make your recovery more difficult. Your doctor might recommend alternating periods of rest with short bouts of walking so your joints and muscles stay flexible.
You may find using ice on your back helps relieve pain, or you might get the most relief from soaking in a warm tub or using a heating pad. Over-the-counter inflammatory medication might help too if your doctor recommends it, considering your other medications and medical conditions. Doing the right exercises daily could help your pain and recovery, but you must do the right ones as shown by your doctor or physical therapist. Exercises keep your muscles strong enough to support your spine properly, and they also help stretch the areas of your back to keep you from getting stiff and sore.
Medications Your Doctor Might Prescribe
Anti-inflammatory drugs, pain relievers, and muscle relaxers are sometimes prescribed for the treatment of a herniated disc. You may not need medications, but if you're having problems with muscle spasms or you're in severe pain, then medications might help for the short term. In the case of severe pain, a steroid anti-inflammatory medication might be injected into your back for more effective pain relief and to help increase your mobility when you can barely move due to pain.
Your doctor may recommend physical treatments such as massage and physical therapy to help with your pain and to speed healing. You may find swimming in a heated therapeutic pool makes you feel better, or you might find relief from pain after a relaxing massage that increases circulation in your back. You may even stretch out on a therapy table and be positioned in a way that relieves pressure on the nerve that's affected by the herniated disc. Your treatment is tailored to your symptoms and condition since your symptoms will vary according to the disc that's affected.
While a herniated disc may not heal completely on its own without surgery, sometimes the right treatment will alleviate the pain and other symptoms associated with the condition so you can avoid or postpone surgery. Eventually, herniated disc surgery may be necessary and your doctor can help you determine when the time is right based on your symptoms and your response to other forms of treatments.
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