Alternatives to Lumbar Disc Surgery

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For people who deal with lumbar disc damage, life can become a rather unpleasant day-by-day existence. There may be a significant amount of pain in the lower back region which affects a person more than those who have never dealt with this can understand. Even if the person is just at the point where they are having regular discomfort, the affect can be significant. Sleep, careers, physical ability, and emotional health can be negatively impacted when a person is living with lumbar (low) back pain.

Having had two back surgeries myself and am looking at the possibility of having to have a third at some point, I have begun to examine the alternatives to lumbar disc surgery. Although there are some circumstances in which these surgical procedures may be the only option left for a person, this isn't always the case. Back surgery of any sort is not only risky, but it can also lead to other problems in the future. The following are some of the alternatives that I have found and thus far, they have prevented the need for disc surgery in the lumbar region and have also allowed me a life with very little pain.

*Strengthening the Muscles Surrounding the Area

One of the most important things that a person who is having troubles in the lumbar region of the spine can do is to strengthen the surrounding muscles. By doing this, you will be taking some of the strain off of the discs and the muscles around the region will help to hold the core body upright and thus, relieve some of the pressure from the discs.

The muscles that you will want to focus on are the supportive muscles, which include the Psoas Major, Intertransversarii Lateralis, Quadratus Lumborum, Interspinales, Intertransversarii Mediales, Multifidus, Longissimus Lumborum, and the Iliocostalis Lumborum. You may want to work with a physical therapist to ensure that you are doing the right exercises and that you are doing them correctly.


Acupuncture is a process that originated in China thousands of years ago. In recent decades, the Western world has begun to understand the benefits of acupuncture and it has become a more common practice. During acupuncture, extremely thin needles are inserted into the body in specific locations determined by what the patient is hoping to resolve. The practice of acupuncture is touted to relieve pain and may be very effective for lumbar disc pain, though it is not known to reverse damage that has already occurred.


Decompressing the spine will allow the discs to stretch out and therefore, will relieve some of the pressure which is associated with herniated discs. When a disc becomes herniated, there is a squeezing as the discs are crushed together and the cushioning between the discs begins to bulge out. Inversion tables will allow the person to be turned upside down securely, allowing the spine to stretch out. There are inversion tables that can be purchased for home use or you may be able to work with a doctor or physical therapist who employs this method of treatment.

*Heat and Cold

To relieve the pain and discomfort that is associated with lumbar disc damage, heat and cold therapy is often effective. Alternate a heating pad with cold packs in ten to fifteen minute intervals. Warm baths or soaking in a hot tub may also be helpful. Being in the water also relieves some of the pressure as the body becomes more buoyant.

*Weight Management

If you are overweight, you are putting a tremendous amount of excess pressure on your lumbar spine discs. This can cause, and may already have caused, a variety of problems, including damaging the discs. With proper diet and careful exercise, you can get your weight down to a better place and alleviate much of the pressure that is on the lumbar spine. You will also be improving your general, overall health, so it is beneficial in many areas of your life besides spine health.

Lumbar spinal disc damage can be a very painful issue to live with. Spinal surgery can be beneficial, but it is not the right solution for every person, by any means. Before going "under the knife", so to speak, it is important that you educate yourself about all of the options, including those listed above. There may be another solution that will work for you to relieve your pain and allow you to live a healthier and happier life.

More about this author: Victoria Tiegert

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