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Lumbar Herniated Disc

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Pain Management for Lumbar Herniated Disc

A lumbar herniated disc, commonly referred to as a “slipped disc,” is one of the leading causes of lower back and leg pain. This condition occurs when soft interior of a spinal disc protrudes through a tear in its tough exterior. This article’s focus is managing this pain associated with herniated discs using non-invasive and surgical interventions for relief. Intervertebral discs serve as cushions between vertebrae in your lower back region; when one pushes out too far it could potentially irritate nearby nerves leading to sharp or shooting pain, numbness or muscle weakness symptoms in other parts of your lower back region which could affect you significantly.

Causes of Lumbar Herniated Disc

Lumbar herniated discs are one of the leading causes of lower back pain. Herniation occurs when soft inner material of a disc pushes its way out through its tougher outer ring, often as a result of age-related wear and tear, or disc degeneration. As we age, our spinal discs become less flexible and susceptible to tear from even minor strains or twists. Physically demanding occupations that include lifting, pulling, bending or twisting can place additional stress on the spine. Overweight individuals also increase their risk due to additional body fat putting additional pressure on discs in the lower back. Lifestyle choices like smoking can decrease oxygen supply to the discs and accelerate its degenerative processes, compounded with genetic predisposition for this condition. All of these factors combined can contribute to the formation of lumbar herniated discs.


Recognizing specific pain patterns and symptoms is essential in diagnosing a lumbar herniated disc. Pain may radiate from the lower back into legs and feet – commonly referred to as sciatica – while its severity ranges from a dull aches to acute discomfort that interferes with daily activities.

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How We Address Lumbar Herniated Discs

Lumbar Discectomy
Lumbar discectomy is considered the preferred treatment for back pain or sciatica caused by a herniated or bulging disc. The term “discectomy” means removal of the disc. This surgery can be performed on any part of the spine, such as the cervical (neck) or lumbar (lower back) regions. Various surgical tools and techniques can be used for the discectomy procedure. A minimally invasive or microendoscopic approach uses a small skin incision and a series of dilators to tunnel through the muscles, with special instruments to operate in a smaller space. The minimally invasive approach causes less disruption to the back muscles and is usually followed by a shorter recovery time.

Regenerative Medicine
Regenerative Medicine, particularly Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) injections, has emerged as a promising approach in managing pain associated with a lumbar herniated disc. PRP therapy utilizes the patient’s own blood components to stimulate healing and tissue regeneration. In this procedure, a concentrated form of platelets, rich in growth factors, is injected directly into the affected lumbar region. These platelets play a crucial role in the healing process by releasing growth factors that promote tissue repair and reduce inflammation. PRP injections are especially beneficial for patients seeking a non-surgical and minimally invasive treatment option. They are known to potentially enhance the healing of the herniated disc, thereby alleviating pain and improving function. The effectiveness of PRP varies among individuals, but many have found significant relief from back pain and an improved quality of life following the treatment.

Radiofrequency Nerve Ablation

Radiofrequency Nerve Ablation (RFA) is a minimally invasive procedure that can be highly effective for pain relief in cases of lumbar herniated discs. This technique involves using radio waves to produce an electrical current that heats a small area of nerve tissue, thereby inhibiting pain signals from that specific nerve. RFA is typically considered when other conservative treatments have failed to provide adequate pain relief. The procedure is performed under local anesthesia and guided imaging to ensure precision. The targeted approach of RFA provides significant pain relief, reduced reliance on pain medication, and can improve mobility for those suffering from chronic lower back pain. While the relief from RFA can last several months to years, the nerves do eventually regenerate, and the procedure may need to be repeated.

Epidural injections
Epidural Steroid Injections (ESIs) are a common and effective treatment for reducing inflammation and pain associated with a lumbar herniated disc. This procedure involves injecting a corticosteroid, often combined with a local anesthetic, into the epidural space around the spinal nerves. The steroid medication reduces inflammation and swelling of the nerves and surrounding tissue, providing significant pain relief. ESIs are often used when other non-surgical treatments like physical therapy or medications have not provided sufficient relief. The procedure is typically performed under fluoroscopic guidance to ensure accurate placement of the injection. While ESIs are not a cure for a herniated disc, they can provide temporary relief, ranging from a few weeks to several months, allowing patients to progress more effectively with their rehabilitation program. It’s important to note that the number of injections one can safely receive is limited, primarily due to the potential side effects of steroids.



Postoperative care is crucial in managing pain and facilitating recovery. This includes a regimen of physical therapy, gradual reintroduction to daily activities, and specific exercises to strengthen the back and prevent the recurrence of pain.

TRI Physical Therapy Commitment To Helping You

Managing pain caused by a lumbar herniated disc requires a multi-faceted approach tailored to the individual’s specific pain patterns and severity. With the right combination of therapies, lifestyle modifications, and possibly surgery, individuals can achieve significant pain relief and regain their quality of life. Our team will help you develop a comprehensive pain management plan that can be easily followed if you’re dealing with a lumbar herniated disc; give us a call so we can help begin your journey to recovery.

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