For a work-related herniated disc, nonsurgical treatment is tried first unless the condition is causing significant problems or is rapidly getting worse. Temporary disability benefits are paid if the worker is off work.
At first, the doctor may want the low back immobilized. Keeping the back still for a short time can calm inflammation and pain. This might include one or two days of bed rest. Lying on one’s back can take pressure off sore discs and nerves. However, most doctors advise against strict bed rest and prefer their patients to do ordinary activities using pain to gauge how much is too much. In rare cases in which bed rest is prescribed, it is usually used for a maximum of two days.
A back support belt is sometimes used for 2-4 days with patients with lumbar disc herniation.
Doctors prescribe certain types of medication for patients with lumbar disc herniation. At first, they may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen. Severe symptoms that don’t go away may be treated with narcotic drugs, such as codeine or morphine. But narcotics should only be used for the first few days or weeks because they are addictive when used too much or improperly. Muscle relaxants may be prescribed if the low back muscles are in spasm. Pain that spreads down the leg is sometimes relieved with oral steroids taken in tapering dosages.
The injured worker may work with a physical therapist. Therapy treatments focus on relieving pain, improving back movement, and fostering healthy posture. A therapist can design a program to help prevent future problems.
Some patients who continue to have symptoms are given an epidural steroid injection (ESI). Steroids are powerful anti-inflammatories. In an ESI, medication is injected into the space around the lumbar spinal nerves where they branch off of the spinal cord. This area is called the epidural space. Some doctors inject only a steroid. Other doctors, however, combine a steroid with a long-lasting numbing medication. Generally, an ESI is given only when other treatments aren’t working. But ESIs are not always successful in relieving pain. If they do work, they often provide only temporary relief.
Most people with a herniated lumbar disc get better without surgery. As a result, doctors usually have their patients try nonoperative treatments for at least six weeks before considering surgery. But when patients simply aren’t getting better, or if the problem is becoming more severe, surgery may be suggested.
/* Style Definitions */
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
font-family:”Times New Roman”;}
McCormick Law Office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.