The definition for the term herniated disc could be a bit complex to most of us, but to put it in simple terms, it's a protrusion between the discs in the spine that puts a lot of pressure on the spinal nerves, causing pain and discomfort. Each patient's case is unique and different because the sliding of the spinal discs that causes the protrusion happens on different areas of the spine for each person. Therefore, a patient's treatment plan is isolated according to the source of his pain, how severe the pain is, and in line with the specific symptoms he is exhibiting. This is why it is always a good idea to immediately see a specialist when you have some spine-related pain instead of trying to relieve the pain yourself and ignoring the problem.
How do I know I have a herniated disc?
Once you experience some nagging pain or progressive weakness in your back, legs or arms, you need to see a physician. He or she will then determine your condition through steps such as:
- Assessing your past medical history
- A physical examination
- Having some test done
These will provide insight as to whether you suffer from a herniated disc or a different condition. Remember, the earlier the intervention process, the better for your treatment plan.
What is the treatment plan for a herniated disc?
The main focus of the treatment plan is on reducing pain and discomfort. This happens as they determine whether to proceed with surgery or to opt for more conservative means. A series of trial and error medication is then issued to determine the one that will work best. Some patients prefer to be on a combined treatment plan at once, for example, physical therapy and some pain relief medication to make it a bit more tolerant and easier to get through. The importance of physical therapy is that it is used to train patients on how to prevent further disc damage through proper sitting, sleeping or even lifting techniques. Some of the conservative means of treatment include:
- The issuing of pain relief drugs e.g, ibuprofen
- Physical therapy to exercise and stretch the nerves to ease the pressure
- Application of ice and heat therapy to relieve the pain
- Epidural injections to prevent inflammation as a means of pain relief
- Manipulation to specifically ease lower back pain.
- Oral steroids to ease the pain.
It is important to note that each patient's case is unique according to the area affected. A person is therefore supposed to immediately seek medical attention to determine how to best deal with their spinal problem. If they are diagnosed with a herniated disc, there is no need to panic because there are ways to progressively treat the condition. Herniated discs are a common problem for many people who are not aware of it. They either suffer in silence or opt for temporary relief while the problem persists. When you exhibit symptoms such as pain and numbness in your legs or arms; pains that worsens when you stand or walk, muscle weaknesses, or even pain that worsens at night, it's time to see a specialist. You could be suffering from a herniated disc and as we have seen, you can go through a treatment plan to better the situation with time.