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What are the treatment options for a herniated lumbar disc?

The main treatment for a herniated lumbar disc is a tincture of time! Since most disc herniations are associated with swelling, as the swelling subsides the nerve irritation goes away. Ninety percent of lumbar disc herniations will have little or no nerve symptoms after approximately 10 days. In the meantime, treatment consists of taking an anti-inflammatory medication and possibly a muscle relaxant, with activity as tolerated. If the nerve symptoms continue, an epidural steroid injection will temporarily relieve these symptoms. For symptoms worsening or lasting longer than three to four months, surgery might be an option if the symptoms are disabling.

The pain from a hernated lumbar disc usually goes away with rest. A day or two of inactivity and then avoiding those activities that may cause the injury in the first place (heavy lifting, twisting or activities with repetitive bending, for example) should help. Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen or naproxen may be enough to deal with the pain, but a doctor can prescribe a more powerful painkiller if necessary. Muscle relaxants to stop back spasms may also be helpful, but must be used with care. Steroid injections may also be used. Physical therapy is often recommended, especially if the pain does not go away with rest after a few weeks. Lifestyle changes are important, including achieving and maintaining a healthy weight and adopting regular exercise that doesn't harm the back. In severe cases surgery may be recommended to remove part of all of the affected disc.

The treatment options for a herniated lumbar disc begin with very conservative measures. Often rest, anti-inflammatory medications, stretching and physical therapy will improve the symptoms of a herniated disc.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.