Herniated Disc (cont.)

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How is a herniated disc treated?

Occasionally, disc herniation is incidentally detected when a test such as an MRI is performed for other reasons. If no symptoms are present, no particular treatment is necessary.

Depending on the severity of symptoms, treatments for a herniated disc include physical therapy, muscle-relaxant medications, pain medications, anti-inflammation medications, local injection of cortisone (epidural injections), and surgical operations. In any case, all people with a disc herniation should rest and avoid reinjuring the disc. Sometimes, even people with relatively severe pain early on can respond to conservative measures, including physical therapy with an exercise regimen, epidural cortisone injection, and/or oral cortisone medication (such as methylprednisolone [Medrol, Depo-Medrol, Solu-Medrol] or prednisone [Deltasone, Liquid Pred]), without the need for surgical intervention.

There are now a variety of surgical approaches to treat disc herniation. Each type of operation is customized to the individual situation and depends a great deal on the condition of the spine around the disc affected. Surgical options include microdiscectomy using small surgical instruments and open surgical repair (either from a posterior or anterior approach). Urgent operation can be necessary when cauda equina syndrome is present (reviewed above).

What is the prognosis (outlook) for a herniated disc?

The outlook for herniated disc depends on the severity and accompanying symptoms. While it is often possible to have full recovery with conservative treatment measures, sometimes surgical intervention is necessary because of persistent symptoms.

Can a herniated disc be prevented?

A herniated disc can only be prevented by avoiding injury to the spine.

REFERENCE:

Fauci, Anthony S., et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2008.


Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/12/2014

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