Herniated disc therapy can work in one of 2 possible ways. First, symptomatic care treats the expressions of a disc pain condition, but will not actually cure the underlying reason for the pain to exist. Next, curative treatment will actively target the source process of pain and resolve the causative condition.
Herniated discs are perhaps the most common of all diagnosed spinal irregularities and affect a great many people of all ages. There are dozens of therapy options for most herniated disc conditions, ranging from conservative to drastic, noninvasive to surgical.
This essay will detail a wide range of therapy selections for the full gamut of possible disc diagnoses.
Conservative Herniated Disc Therapy
Most patients who are diagnosed with a bulging disc are sent for conservative treatment in the hopes that their disc will heal all by itself. These noninvasive methods are typically symptomatic treatments, which means that they will help make the painful syndrome more livable by reducing the severity of the symptoms, but will do little or nothing to resolve the actual structural condition.
Doctors know that most herniated discs will heal within 2 to 8 weeks, so these therapy modalities will be used for up to 3 months, or even longer, in some instances. The most common conservative herniated disc treatments include:
Chiropractic treatment might continue on and on, way past the point of usefulness. In fact, chiropractic is known for convincing patients that they require continuing care for life, to preserve good health, if not to actively treat back pain. This may be a good or bad thing to consider, depending on your attitude towards ongoing care.
Physical therapy uses exercise and stretching to help a patient recover from pain. Unfortunately, these methods often make little sense for a structural disc-pain diagnosis.
Drugs are prescribed to reduce the effect of pain and other symptoms.
TENS treatment often accompanies other forms of back care. This controversial pain management method might not be universally successful, but at least it is non-pharmaceutical.
Acupuncture is a holistic and effective method of pain management.
Massage therapy will relax tense muscles, but will not do much to relieve a structural disc condition in the spine.
Spinal decompression is typically used as a moderate treatment option for severe disc pain. The therapy is usually pursued by patients with longer term complaints, mostly due to the higher cost of treatment involved. This is a shame, since this is a highly effective modality for many patients with a variety of disc diagnoses.
Epidural injections can offer long lasting pain relief for many patients. The main complaint concerning this modality is that subsequent rounds of injections typically offer far reduced effectiveness and pain relief duration.
Surgical Herniated Disc Therapy
Herniated disc surgery is still a prevalent form of drastic treatment, despite it often providing disappointing outcomes. Disc surgeries come in many configurations, from the relatively enlightened techniques of artificial disc replacement to the barbaric and antiquated notions of spinal fusion.
Surgery has proven itself to be a poor option for most back, neck and sciatica pain patients and often makes the condition far worse, instead of resolving the symptoms. In fact, the high incidence of poor surgical results has given rise to an actual diagnosed condition called failed back surgery syndrome. Spinal operations are far overused, since the vast majority of patients should be treated nonsurgically.
Psychological Therapy for Herniated Discs
Knowledge therapy is the alternative medical treatment developed by Dr. John Sarno, to treat patients suffering from tension myositis syndrome. Dr. Sarno theorizes that most back pain is not the result of any structural degeneration or injury. Rather, the lasting symptoms of chronic herniated disc pain come about exclusively through a psychogenic process.
Experience with literally tens of thousands of back pain patients each year has taught me that Dr. Sarno might be right in many of his teachings. I highly recommend this technique to people suffering with a wide range of mindbody health problems and find it to be especially suited for chronic pain patients. There is no risk and no appreciable cost, so there is nothing to lose and a potential cure to gain.