Non-Surgical Treatments for Herniated Disc Pain
More often than not, the arm pain associated with a herniated cervical disc can be successfully managed with medication and non-surgical treatments.
If and when arm pain begins to get better, it is doubtful that it will return in the future. If the arm pain improves, then it is suitable to carry on with nonsurgical treatments since there is currently little to no literature that champions the hypothesis that surgery for herniated cervical discs aid the speedy recovery of the nerve root.
All therapies for a herniated cervical disc are basically intended to facilitate resolution of the arm pain, and typically the tingling and numbness will discontinue with time.
Treating Arm Pain
When you first feel the onset of pain from herniated cervical disc(s), anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) including ibuprofen (ie. Motrin, Advil, Nuprin) or COX-2 inhibitors (ie. Celebrex) can aid in the reduction of pain. The pain that results from a herniated disc results from a mixture of inflammation related to the disc material and nerve root pinching. Thus, by taking NSAIDs when you first begin to feel pain, you will reduce some of the inflammation which reduces that aspect of pain while the pressure aspect (nerve root pinching) concurrently resolves itself. If you are experiencing extreme pain that is not alleviated with anti-inflammatory medications, you may wish to ask your doctor about short-term oral steroids such as a Medrol Dose Pak or Prednisone which may provide even greater pain relief.
Other Effective Treatment Alternatives
In addition to the options named above, there are several other non-surgical therapeutic options that can help to ease the pain associated with a herniated cervical disc. These include:
- Light exercise and physical therapy – Exercise and physical therapy will help to keep the muscles warm and from becoming too stiff, which can increase pain. At the outset of treatment a physical therapist may employ temperature therapy or ultrasound to aid in the reduction of muscle spasm.
- Chiropractic treatment – Manual manipulation performed by a licensed chiropractor can ease joint dysfunction that may be worsening the pain. The manipulations performed should be gentle and low-velocity, referred to as mobilization of the joints.
- Activity modification – Be conscious of any activities that may aggravate the pain from a herniated disc. These activities may include running, heavy lifting, and any activities that necessitate prolonged extension of the neck or compression to the cervical spine.
- Injections – Selective nerve root blocks or cervical epidural steroid injections can aid in the reduction of inflammation in the event of severe pain resulting from a cervical herniated disc. These injections can be extremely beneficial if accompanied by a complete treatment regimen.