Usually, a physician can tell after an exam and studying patients’ medical history if they are suffering from herniated discs, which are caused by trauma along the spine involving the vertebrae’s connective tissue. If a physician is unsure of exactly what nerves along the spinal column are affected, or if they want to rule out other conditions, they may order imaging tests, such as X-rays, to detect problems other than herniated discs. CT scans, MRIs, and Myelograms can also allow them to search for exactly where the damaged disc is located and how much pressure it is putting on the spine.
They can also determine nerve damage using nerve conduction studies and Electromyography (EMG). Your physician will attach electrodes to your back and pass weak currents through the nerves to measure nerve signals and electrical impulses. To administer an EMG, your physician inserts a needle electrode into different muscles to gauge a muscle’s electrical activity.
According to the Mayo Clinic, patients with herniated discs should avoid pain-inducing movements and take pain-reducing medication. Complete bed rest is not recommended because it will cause muscles to weaken and joints to stiffen.
Physicians may recommend that you work with a physical therapist to control pain. They can show you how to alleviate pain from herniated discs using exercise.
Physicians usually recommend patients with mild to moderate pain to try nonprescription medications. These over-the-counter choices include acetaminophen products such as Tylenol, ibuprofen products such as Advil and Motrin IB, or naproxen sodium products such as Aleve.
Your physician may prescribe a neuropathic drug that blocks nerve impulses which signal pain, such as Neurontin, Lyrica, Effexor XR, and Cymbalta. Muscle relaxers may also work if your muscles are spasming, and cortisone injections are a possibility if oral medications are not doing the trick.
Because opioids are a scheduled drug under federal and Florida law, with some value as a medical treatment but highly addictive, many doctors no longer choose to prescribe them. If they do, they face stringent government oversight. Some physicians will prescribe opioids if other choices are ineffective but only for a short time. These codeine- or oxycodone-based drugs include Percocet and Oxycet.
Although few patients with herniated discs end up in surgery, it can happen if other non-surgical treatments prove ineffective after six to 12 weeks. If you still have severe pain, trouble walking or standing, or have lost some control over bowel or bladder functions, your physician may recommend surgery.
When a surgeon removes only the bulging part of the disc causing your pain, or in rare cases, the entire disc, you undergo a discectomy. A surgeon can perform a laminectomy when the vertebral lamina is involved and they need to restore the spinal canal space to relieve pain. However, a laminectomy will not cure arthritis that likely caused the narrowing spinal canal space.
Herniated discs commonly result from accidents that traumatize the spine, such as motor vehicle crashes and property-based accidents. If someone else caused an accident and you had to seek treatment for a herniated disc because of it, you are entitled to compensation for your medical bills, physical therapy, and lost wages.
Contact Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon to discuss your treatment options for herniated discs and learn how we could help you recover the financial losses you suffered.