The spine is made of vertebrae, which are actually bones, and the cushions located between them. We will talk about a problem called herniated disk, which is associated with the mentioned cushions, or disks. The spinal disk has a sturdy outside area, while the inside area is very soft and tender. The herniated disk occurs when the soft middle part finds a crack in the outer area and goes through it. This can cause pain due to the nerve irritation, weakness or numbness in the leg or an arm. Symptoms associated with the herniated disk can be felt although sometimes they are not felt even when the problem is present. Surgery is not needed in the majority of the cases of herniated disk.
Drugs and Treatments
The conservative treatment involves the use of medications and exercises and it is effective in nine of ten cases. By following this treatment, you will experience results after one or two months. The shrinking of the displaced or protruding disk is a proof that the treatment is working. Over-the-counter medications can help in mild to moderate cases of herniated disk and the most popular are acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen and others. Be careful with these medications because they can lead to the gastrointestinal bleeding, while liver damage can occur due to use of acetaminophen in larger dosages. Narcotics can be used if over-the-counter medications are inefficient.
You may get hydrocodone-acetaminophen combination, such as Lortab, Vicodin, or some other, but this can be used for a limited period of time. This can lead to certain side effects, such as constipation confusion, nausea and sedation, and if you use the mentioned combination, remember that you need to decrease the dose of Tylenol if you are using it. If limb spasms or back spasms are experienced, you may need some cyclobenzaprine, like Amrix or Flexeril, or diazepam, such as Valium. Side effects like dizziness and sedation may occur. The use of cortisone injections is also possible and they are administered directly in the region of the spinal nerves.
Pain caused by herniated dick can be reduced by working with the physical therapist. After doing exercises and positions for some time, the pain will reduce and you can go on to the rehabilitation program of regaining stability and strength of your back and this will aid the prevention of the herniated disk in the future. During physical therapy, you may need to use bracing for the lower back or neck for a short period of time, electrical stimulation, ultrasound or traction. Also, application of heat and ice packs may be needed.
If every other form of treatment fails after a period of six weeks, you will have to undergo a surgery. Also, if herniated disk involves fragment located in the spinal canal, which stresses the nerve and causes weakness, you may need a surgery. The surgery will also be done if the herniated disk is causing great problems in performing daily activities. The whole disk is seldom removed, but the protruding part will be removed. Know that the surgery is performed on a very small number of herniated dick cases.