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Herniated Disc: Treatment, Cost and Side Effects

Last Updated: Feb 25, 2024

What is the Herniated Disc?

Herniated disc treatment is required when the disc present in the spine which helps absorb shocks and cushions the spine making it flexible gets damaged and creates a bulge or break open. A herniated disc is found in any part of the body but usually this problem affects the lower back area. While some can happen in the neck and others rarely happen in the neck region. The wearing and tearing of the disc is the main cause behind this condition as your body does not stay as flexible when you age. An injury to the spine can also be another reason behind the problem. Small cracks in the outer layer of the disc can cause the disc to either bulge or break open.

In most cases, the herniated disc gets repaired on its own within a period of 6 weeks. In case of a more serious problem where the condition becomes extremely uncomfortable and painful, taking medical help is advised. The doctors may carry out certain imaging tests like tomography, X rays, MRI and Myelogram which is a process of injecting dye in the spinal fluid and then taking the X-Ray. In such a situation, painful positions are to be avoided and following a well planned exercise regime is suggested.

How is the Herniated Disc treatment done?

In order to cure the problem of herniated disc, certain simple and common methods of avoiding painful positions and following a well planned exercise routine are to be followed along with taking certain pain medication. This helps in observing a significant change within a few weeks. You can use over the counter medications for pain relief if the pain is mild. Ibuprofen or naproxen might help in such a situation. In some cases when over the counter medications are not enough, you doctor may suggest narcotics for a short period of time as well. Muscle relaxers and anticonvulsants designed to regulate seizures may also be used. For suppressing the inflammation corticosteroids may be injected directly in the affected area in the spinal nerves.

You can also use physical therapy if the problem is not gone within a couple of weeks. In physical therapy session, you will be taught positions and exercises which is specifically designed to minimize the pain. Surgery is another option which can be opted when the problem gets worse and the treatment so far has not proved to be helpful. In these surgeries, the protruding areas of the disk are removed. In very rare cases, the vertebrae need to be fused with metal hardware to give support and stability to the spine.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

Constant nagging pain in the back, a radiating pain which increases with lifting and bending, weakness and a possible loss of sensation in the legs, loss of bladder and bowel control and difficulty in walking are some of the symptoms of herniated disc. Any individual who sees the aforementioned signs should get themselves treated.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

Individuals taking low dose aspirin medications for low blood thinning should not take ibuprofen which is a medication taken for herniated disc. Other people who do not show symptoms of the condition are not eligible for the treatment.

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Are there any side effects?

Taking ibuprofen for a long time can have side effects like dyspepsia, diarrhea, liver enzymes, nose bleeding, dizziness, priapism, Naproxen can also have some side effects like indigestion, heartburn, nausea, bruising, swelling. Doctors strictly advise not to take the medications for longer than necessary. The surgery for herniated disc also has some risks which should be considered. Bleeding, infection, nerve root damage are some of them.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

In order to recover completely, the patients needs to take the medications for the suggested period of time and use hot and cold packs to reduce the pain and inflammation. Patients are also advised to avoid too much bed rest as it may have a negative impact on your back.

How long does it take to recover?

Full recovery usually takes a period of six weeks. Patients can resume their daily activity after a month and a half without any restrictions. For patients who have undergone a surgery, it takes longer for them to recover.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

A surgery for herniated disc may cost you around Rs 3.5 to 4.5 lakhs. But this is only required in the rare cases when a surgery is absolutely required. For over the counter pain medication like ibuprofen, the patients may need to spare Rs 50-70.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

The results for the treatment of herniated disc are permanent. Patients need to take medication and follow certain steps to avoid any further complications.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

There are alternative methods of treatment for the condition. Individuals suffering from herniated disc can go to a chiropractor for spinal manipulation, Acupuncture, massage and yoga are some other methods of treating herniated disc.

References

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Written ByDr. E. Logesh MSPT (Master of Physical Therapy),BPTh/BPTPhysiotherapy
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