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Nearly 90% of Patients with a Slipped Disc Don’t Require Surgery

In many cases, patients with back pain, leg pain, or weakness of the lower extremity muscles are often diagnosed with a herniated disc (also called a slipped disc).

If you, a friend or family member is experiencing severe pain from a slipped disc, then the best treatment must be surgery, right? Why not if the pain is unbearable? Hang on for a moment. Let’s first consider the facts, understand what causes disc herniation and then look at the variety of non-surgical treatment options that may be right for you.

How a Disc Herniation Occurs

disc herniation occurs when the cushion that sits between the spinal vertebrae is pushed outside its normal position. Also being known as a prolapsed disc, the condition can be excruciating, and it can happen to anyone. So, an accurate diagnosis is critical to determining the most effective treatment.

Now, a herniated disc down in the lumbar spine can put pressure on one or more of the spinal nerve roots that compose the sciatic nerve. This may lead to the brain interpreting pain anywhere from the lower back all the way down the leg into the calf or foot.

Different Symptoms of a Slipped Disc

Symptoms vary depending upon the level and location of the injured disc. Low back pain and/or sciatica are the most common symptoms, and it varies in intensity from mild to severe. The onset of symptoms may be sudden or gradual and may include: sharp, burning leg pain, tingling, and numbness in the buttocks, legs, or feet. Certain movements such as bending forward or twisting can intensify the pain as can prolonged sitting, sneezing or coughing. Weakness in one or both legs, and in unique circumstances, loss of bladder or bowel control may happen.

Keep in mind that with the natural aging process, discs dehydrate and lose their resiliency making them more susceptible to wear. Other factors that can weaken or damage discs include: heavy or incorrect lifting, poor posture, repetitive twisting movements, high-impact sports, smoking, obesity and traumatic injury.

Best Treatment Options NOT Requiring Surgery

What you may not have known is that nearly 90% of patients with disc herniations don’t require surgery. The first step is diagnosis, and your pain management doctor will conduct a complete clinical evaluation with thorough medical history and a physical exam. Additionally, diagnostic tests such as EMG, CT or MRI imaging may be recommended to verify the precise location and extent of damage.

Herniated disc symptoms may be treated with the following:

  • Conservative measures such as activity modification, analgesics, anti-inflammatory medications, and physical therapy
  • Epidural nerve blocks may be employed in instances of severe or persistent pain
  • These injections are an office-based procedure with minimal downtime and may be performed up to three times, usually two to three weeks apart
  • Physical therapy also helps to prevent the recurrence of disc injury

Reach out to us for an appointment if you, your friend or family member is experiencing severe pain from a slipped disc. Greater than 90% of patients treated for herniated discs realize a significant improvement with pain reduction and increased mobility.

Our board-certified pain management physicians are here to help and National Spine & Pain Centers offers over 30 convenient office locations for you to choose from.

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