How Pain Specialists Manage and Treat Herniated Disc Pain

Pain from a herniated disc can be mild and easy to handle, moderate and distracting, or severe enough to send you straight to a doctor.

It can hit suddenly and resolve in a few days. It can be constant or chronic and last for months or longer. 

Doctors specialized in pain management recommend treating herniated disc pain with conservative, non-surgical treatments.

Surgery may be recommended only after all other treatments have failed. 

The Three Types of Herniated Discs 

1. Contained Herniation (bulging disc)

With this type of herniation, there is generally no pain or mild pain. 

Bulging discs occur when pressure between the vertebrae pinches the disc, forcing it to bulge. When there is pain, it comes from the bulging disc putting pressure on nearby spinal nerves.

2. Non-Contained Herniation (severe bulging disc)

This severe disc herniation generally causes severe back pain.

It can also be associated with numbness, weakness, and tingling in the extremities from the extreme pressure on spinal nerves. 

3. Sequestered herniation (disc rupture)

This type of herniation can cause intense pain and decreased mobility. It is also associated with numbness, weakness, and tingling in the extremities.

Disc ruptures can occur when non-contained herniations or severe bulging discs go untreated. As pressure between the vertebrae builds up, it eventually overloads the discs, forcing them to rupture. 

Where They Occur in the Body

Most herniated discs are in the neck and lower back.

Lumbar pain (lower back) 

Sciatica or leg pain is the most common symptom associated with herniated discs in the lower back.

Patients describe sharp, burning, or radiating pain down the lower back, through the buttock, and down the leg (pain travels through the sciatic nerve). 

Herniated lumbar discs can also cause numbness and muscle weakness in the foot and ankle. 

Cervical herniated disc (neck) 

Depending on the location of the herniated disc, pain can present in the neck, shoulder, arm, and hand. The pain from cervical herniated discs can last for days, weeks, months or longer, and be constant or chronic. 

When a herniated disc puts too much pressure on cervical nerves, patients can experience tingling, numbness, and weakness in the deltoid muscle (shoulder muscle), biceps, wrist muscles, hands, and triceps.

Thoracic Spine (upper back)

Disc herniations in the upper back are less common and rarely cause pain. When there is pain, it presents in the upper back and chest. 

Pain Treatments for Them

Pain management specialists typically begin herniated disc treatment with rest and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).

Medications 

Depending on the severity of the pain, medication may make it easier for patients to tolerate physical therapy. 

  • OTC NSAIDs like aspirin and ibuprofen (recommended for mild to moderate pain)
  • oral narcotic agents (prescribed for severe pain)
  • oral steroids (prescribed to treat severe pain and reduce inflammation)

Home and Non-M.D. Treatments

These are treatments that don’t require a pain management doctor’s expertise.

When applied for 4-6 weeks, these treatments can help reduce pain and discomfort. Applying more than one treatment at once may achieve better results. 

  • Heat and cold therapy
  • Moderate physical activity
  • Chiropractic
  • Moderate exercise
  • Changing sleep positions 
  • physical therapy
  • Myofascial release and/or massage

Therapeutic Injections

Pain management specialists may recommend therapeutic injections if conventional therapies and medications don’t work or provide relief soon enough. 

These can relieve pain for days, weeks, and even months (which buys time for non-surgical treatment and therapy to work). 

  • epidural injections (to reduce inflammation and provide extended pain relief)
  • nerve blocks (to diagnose the source of the neck pain and to provide extended pain relief)

Herniated Disc Treatment in Texas

If you have been diagnosed with a herniated disc or think you may have one, Texas Pain Physicians can help. We have offices in Houston, Dallas, and a dozen other locations across Texas.

Give us a call or book an appointment online and start your pain-free journey today!

Young asian woman touching her neck while wincing in pain.

The VERY Painful Pinched Nerve… 7 Ways to Avoid This Common Injury.

Many athletes call them ‘stingers.’ Doctors call them pinched or compressed nerves. 

And they hurt bad. Like giant bee stings. 

The pain usually hits in the neck, in an area known as the brachial plexus, where the nerves extend down into the arms.

Pinched nerves have sudden and gradual causes; they can strike suddenly when lifting a heavy object and gradually develop from poor sitting posture.

 

Here are 7 things you can do to lower your risk of suffering a pinched nerve.

1. Get Enough Sleep

The best way to avoid a pinched nerve is to let your mind and body recover from the day.

When you have more energy to think clearly, you are less likely to make uncoordinated movements that lead to injuries.  

2. Practice Good Sitting Posture

Consistent poor sitting posture can cause pinched nerves. Try to sit so that your neck isn’t bent.

If you work in an office, adjust your monitor so that the top edge is eye level.

3. Stand More. 

Sitting for long periods with bad posture can cause pinched nerves. 

If you work at a table or desk, try adjusting your workstation so that you can work while standing.

4. Practice sound body mechanics.  

It’s easy to strain your neck and back.

Whether you are getting into or out of bed, exercising, or hiking up a mountain, try to make smooth, mechanically sound body movements.

And if you have to move to a new place or help your neighbors move, lift heavy objects with your legs instead of your back. 

5. Don’t play contact sports. 

Many people grow up playing contact sports like soccer, basketball, and American football.

The fitness aspect is good for you, but the contact can lead to pinched nerves and other sports injuries.

And pinched nerves are common injuries in contact sports. If you play contact sports, warm up, stay hydrated, and take breaks. 

6. Do Strength and Flexibility Exercises.

Stretching and strength-building activities like yoga and pilates stretch the nerves in your neck and arms.

This loosens the tension and relieves pressure on your nerves, making pinched nerves less likely.

7. Do physical therapy.

Physical therapy methods like massage and cold laser therapy can prevent and lessen muscle strain and muscle inflammation. 

Pain Management and Treatment at Texas Pain Physicians

Have a pinched nerve or think you may be at risk for a pinched nerve? We have expert pain management doctors who treat them and help you prevent them. 

Give us a call at (972) 636-5727 or book your appointment today!