What non-surgical treatment options are available for spine injuries?

While we are not doctors, many of our clients ask similar questions after being injured in auto accidents. Since each spine injury is different, your smartest option is to see a back specialist such as an orthopedic surgeon or neurosurgeon for a comprehensive evaluation. The following is a general discussion of treatment options available, is not intended to replace the advice of a qualified medical expert on spinal injuries, and should not be relied upon as suggested treatment for a particular injury.

The care of a patient with a lumbar herniated disc is far from standardized and, to a certain extent, needs to be individualized for each patient.
The treatment options for a lumbar herniated disc will largely depend on the length of time the patient has had his or her symptoms and the severity of the back pain. Other considerations include the nature of the symptoms (such as if weakness or numbness is present), and possibly the age of the patient.

As a general rule, patients will be advised to start with 6 to 12 weeks of nonsurgical treatment, such as physical therapy. Either oral steroid medication or an epidural injection may achieve a stronger anti-inflammatory effect, although their use is a little riskier, and neither has been clearly shown to change the natural history of whether or not a patient will need surgery. Approximately 50% of the time, an epidural steroid injection will provide pain relief that may last from one week up to one year. Up to three epidural injections may be done in a one-year time frame (at least two weeks apart). Medications, such as (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can also reduce the inflammation caused by the disc herniation and are less invasive that steroids.

Although uncommon, symptoms from a lumbar herniated disc may resolve on their own, but it may take a prolonged period of time. While there are no hard and fast guidelines for how to heal a herniated disc, this article outlines some general guidelines for deciding on a range of nonsurgical and surgical treatment options.

The primary goals of any type of treatment are twofold: 1) to provide relief of pain, especially leg pain which can be quite severe and debilitating, and 2) to allow the patient to return to a normal level of everyday.

If, after six (6) to twelve (12) weeks of non-surgical treatment for symptoms related to lumbar herniated disc does not provide pain relief, and the pain is severe, surgery may become an option. Surgery may be recommended prior to completing a full 6 weeks of nonsurgical care if the pain is severe enough and the patient is having difficulty maintaining a reasonable level of functioning, or the patient is experiencing progressive neurological symptoms, such as worsening leg weakness and/or numbness.

How much non-operative treatment a patient requires for a herniated disc is unique to the individual. Patients who are not experiencing severe pain and can function well, a greater period of conservative treatment may be appropriate (e.g. 12 weeks). In the case of a patients who suffers severe pain and is not responsive to non-operative treatment, nerve decompression or other forms of surgery may be an option to treat the lumbar herniated disc.
In the event a patient exhibits progressive neurological deficits, or presents a rapid onset of bowel or bladder dysfunction, an immediate surgical evaluation should be made as these conditions may represent a surgical emergency. Both of these conditions, however, are seldom seen, and the majority of instances of surgery for a lumbar herniated disc is an elective procedure.

If you have been involved in an accident that resulted in a TBI of spinal column injury, the injury and necessary treatment can be significant and confusing. What rights and benefits you may be entitled to can be equally confusing. You need the advice and counsel of an attorney that has experience with TBI and spinal injuries, is aggressive and not afraid to fight with the insurance company to secure everything you deserve. Dan Newlin & Partners are such attorneys. Call Dan Newlin & Partners for a free consultation and learn about the complex area of the law surrounding TBI and spine injuries. Insurance companies have attorneys whose job it is to give you as little as possible to settle your injury claim. You need an attorney by your side to help you receive all you are entitled to compensate you for your medical bills, pain and suffering. Please call Dan Newlin & Partners right away at (407) 888-8000.