When it comes to pain, Dr. A. Tony Chami, Medical Director at the Chicagoland Advanced Pain Specialists, offers three words of advice: don’t give up.
“Keep in mind that even though somebody experiences pain abruptly, it’s likely the result of a long process, maybe many months and years, that got them to this point where the pain became so overwhelming as to cause misery,” he said. “There’s a process that can be invoked and sometimes it’s able to control pain pretty quickly. Other times it may require a more protracted treatment plan. Keep trying different things.”
Herniated discs, also called a slipped disc or ruptured disc, can be a major source of neck, arm, back and leg pain. Treatment is dependent on the patient’s symptoms.
“If it’s something that hasn’t been treated before we can treat it with medication and refer (the patient) to physical therapy or a chiropractor,” Chami said. “The physical therapy treatment a lot of times is all that’s necessary in combination with medicine.”
However, if the pain is so severe that the patient cannot participate in physical therapy, the treatment becomes more aggressive and can include epidural steroid injections and joint injections, or a combination of injections with physical therapy.
“Treatment for pain that’s done in combination is synergistic in its benefits,” Chami said.
And often times patients see positive results with nonsurgical treatments, thus “surgery is not an option until much later unless there are warning signs about nerve damage,” Chami said.
Disc herniation can occur at any age for any reason.
“Sometimes it’s just from walking upright,” Chami said. “That upright posture puts a lot of pressure on those discs. That pressure eventually takes its toll.”
But there are options to be explored to relieve the symptoms and prevent further injury.
“Don’t give up,” Chami said.