Unless a Workers Compensation Lumbar Disc Herniation is causing intractable problems or rapidly getting worse, most doctors will begin with nonsurgical treatment.
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 the 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 patients with lumbar disc herniation. The belt can help lower pressure inside the problem disc. Patients are encouraged to gradually discontinue wearing the support belt over a period of two to four days. Otherwise, their trunk muscles begin to rely on the belt and start to atrophy (shrink).
Doctors prescribe certain types of medication for patients with lumbar disc herniation. At first, anti-inflammatory medications may be prescribed 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.
Physical therapy may be ordered. Therapy treatments focus on relieving pain, improving back movement, and fostering healthy posture. A therapist can design a program to help you 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. Most doctors, however, combine a steroid with a long-lasting numbing medication. ESIs are not always successful, and 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.
The workers compensation attorneys at McCormick Law in Milwaukee, Wisconsin provide successful legal representation to injured employees with workers compensation lumbar disc herniation with or without surgery. The keys are work-related and extent of disability.