Text Size: A A A

Herniated Disc Treatment

Non-surgical and Surgical Treatments for Herniated Discs

Peer Reviewed

There are several herniated disc treatment options that may relieve your symptoms. These include non-surgical treatments such as: alternate bed rest with ambulation and medications to reduce inflammation and pain. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are often used for this purpose.


pills, drugs


Physical therapy may be incorporated into the patient's treatment plan. This might include exercise, massage, thermotherapy, as well as a device designed to support the back—a corset, back belt, or brace.

Remember that most patients with a herniated disc will get better without surgery.

SpineUniverse offers articles specifically on each of these non-surgical herniated disc treatments.  Follow the links below to learn more about what might relieve your disc pain.

In-depth Articles on Non-surgical Herniated Disc Treatments

Surgery for Herniated Discs

When no improvement is noted after a course of conservative treatment, surgery might be considered.

A discectomy is the surgical removal of part or the entire offending intervertebral disc.

Microdiscectomy incorporates the use of a microscope to magnify the surgical field during removal of the disc.

We have an article just on herniated disc surgery options. It goes into much more detail on the types of surgery used to address herniated disc pain and other symptoms.

Recovery from a Herniated Disc

No matter which herniated disc treatments you try, it is important to closely follow the instructions of your physician and/or physical therapist.

Keep your weight close to ideal and continue to follow the exercise and/or rehabilitative program designed by your physical therapist at home. These steps may help you prevent further pain associated with a herniated disc.

Which Herniated Disc Treatments Are Right for You?

Your doctor knows your case best:  he or she will be able to recommend a made-for-you herniated disc treatment plan.  It will take into account your overall health, other conditions you may have, your current level of physical activity, your lifestyle, and your symptoms.

Keep in mind that it may take trying several treatments before finding pain relief—and that is all right and normal.  You and your doctor are a team, working together to treat your herniated disc pain and other symptoms, so pay close attention to what works and what doesn't work.

Your herniated disc treatment plan has one goal:  to reduce your pain and get you back to living the full life you want.


Updated on: 04/02/13
Howard S. An, MD
Dr. Dawson's article on herniated disc is quite informative, and it has been written in such a way for a lay person to understand the content. The description on the extent of herniation is quite accurate and MRI is quite helpful in determining the type and location of herniated disc. It should be remembered that the diagnosis of a herniated disc is frequently made clinically after history and examination, and MRI or CT is recommended only if invasive treatment is considered.

Among conservative treatments mentioned, pain relief with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) and a gradual exercise program rather than bedrest is important for maximal recovery.

Epidural steroids also should be mentioned as a secondary treatment for radicular pain if NSAIDs are not helping.

Surgical indications should be strictly defined as failure to relieve radicular pain or radiculopathy despite appropriate conservative treatment for at least 6 weeks, and imaging study showing herniated disc that correlates clinically.

Dr. Dawson is correct in that about 80-90% of patients with a herniated disc will respond to conservative treatment. One of the reasons for the patient's improvement of symptom associated with herniated discs is the tendency of gradual resorption of the extruded disc frament with time. If surgery is indicated, outpatient microdiscectomy is the gold standard treatment as Dr. Dawson stated.

Other treatment methods such as chemonycleolysis, endoscopic or arthroscopic discectomy, nucleoplasty, etc. have narrower indications, and the success rate is generally lower than microdiscectomy. Long-term outcomes following these newer procedures should be determined prior to general application.

Continue Reading:

Drugs, Medications, and Spinal Injections for Herniated Discs

Medications and spinal injections can help manage your herniated disc pain. In this spine surgeon-reviewed article, get an overview of medications for herniated discs.
Read More