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The main goals of any treatment options for a herniated disc are to relieve pain, reduce swelling, and restore or maintain a quality standard of life through healing. All of these goals can be met through the use of prescription medications. In fact, prescription medications are a part of the treatment plan for a herniated disc for nearly eighty percent of patients with the condition.
There are four main types of prescription medications used in the treatment of a herniated disc. These four types of prescription medications are pain relievers, anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxers, and steroids. Of the four types of prescription medications used in the treatment of a herniated disc, steroids and narcotic pain relievers are the most dangerous and have the most side effects with long term usage.
Pain relievers typically prescribed for the management of pain caused by a herniated disc include Tylenol (acetaminophen), Advil or Motrin (ibuprofen), Aleve (naproxen), and aspirin. One or more of these medications may be prescribed at one time. For example, Tylenol and ibuprofen can be taken together, alternately, and in high dosages to help manage pain with few side effects.
Narcotic pain relievers are only prescribed by your physician if the above pain relievers do not sufficiently manage the pain caused by the herniated disc. These pain relievers have more side effects than the more common pain relievers. Additionally, narcotics are highly addictive, and should not be taken for a long period of time.
Anti-inflammatory medications prescribed for treatment of a herniated disc include ibuprofen and a few other prescription medications. These medications help to reduce swelling in the herniated disc and muscles of the back surrounding the disc. More often than not your physician will prescribe ibuprofen first, only moving on to other medications if the results are not satisfactory. Reducing swelling with the use of these medications will help to lessen the pain associated with the herniated disc as well as promote healing as pressure on the disc is relieved.
Muscle relaxers are prescribed medications that help the muscles of the back relax, thereby removing some pressure from the herniated disc, and helping to eliminate or ease the pain resulting from the condition. Muscle relaxers are not often prescribed unless all other pain management and anti-inflammatory medications have been found to be unsatisfactory in their results. These medications may also fall under the category of narcotics, and many of them can be extremely habit forming if taken for a long period of time.
Steroids are the final attempt to relieve pain and swelling in the herniated disc, and is used only when all other treatment options have failed to restore or maintain mobility and a quality standard of life. Steroids may be given in oral form, although it is much more likely that your doctor will use an injection at the site of the herniated disc. A spinal block, which is an injection of steroids into the spine, may be used to help manage pain that is the result of pinched nerves resulting from the swollen herniated disc.