At the onset of symptoms and during the first six weeks it is reasonable to try different medications and therapies to relieve the pain from the lumbar herniated disc and to give it time to heal. With time the body can reabsorb the disc herniation and symptoms may start to decrease. If this is the case, continued nonsurgical treatment is justifiable.
Surgery for herniated disc
The decision to continue with nonsurgical treatment options or to have surgery principally depends on one’s level of pain and dysfunction.
Therefore, patients who suffer from unbearable low back and/or leg pain that does not improve after pain killers, physiotherapy, or exercise are well suited candidates.
Another group of patients who can benefit from surgery are those who develop weakness in either toes, ankles or legs from the underlying lumbar disc herniation or extraforaminal stenosis (narrowing of the space available for the nerve root while exiting the spine).
With better and less invasive surgical techniques, surgery often represents a more cost-effective alternative than prolonged non-operative treatment.