What Is the Treatment for a Compressed Disc?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 07 August 2019
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A compressed disc is a fairly common condition, and it can be quite painful. This condition, often known as a herniated disc or bulging disc, occurs when excess pressure is placed on a spinal disc, which sits between two hard vertebrae in the spine. The excess pressure can lead to a bulge in the disc, which in turn will place pressure on the nerves that run in and around the spine. A compressed disc can lead to temporary pain or permanent issues such as reduced mobility or motor control, so prompt treatment is important. Many non-surgical treatment options exist, and these are usually attempted before surgery.

Some types of braces have been designed to completely immobilize the spine, thereby taking pressure off the disc. This can help promote healing and prevent further injury to the affected area. If the disc heals, the pressure on the nerves will be alleviated and pain should cease or at least abate somewhat. This can take a long time, and the brace may be necessary for extended periods of time as prescribed by a doctor or medical professional. Wearing such a brace can be quite uncomfortable and will limit daily activities.


Certain medications, such as anti-inflammatory meds or even steroids, can be used to help alleviate the pressure resulting from the compressed disc as well. These should be taken only as directed, as they can cause other issues if taken in quantities that are too high. Not taking enough can prolong the recovery period. Painkillers are also sometimes prescribed in conjunction with anti-inflammatory medications or steroids to help alleviate pain and allow for normal functioning during daily activities. It will be necessary, however, to stop any activity that may have ultimately led to the compressed disc in the first place, as such motions can worsen the injury.

In the most severe cases, surgery may be necessary to treat a compressed disc. This surgery can be quite invasive, as the surgeon will need to access the affected area of the spine. This is usually only recommended in the most severe cases, as spinal surgery may not ultimately be effective and the healing time for such a procedure is likely to be quite extensive. Further, the surgery will not necessarily prevent the injury from recurring in the future, so the doctor and the patient will need to do a careful assessment to figure out if this is the best course of action.


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Post 4

I had a microdiscectomy more than 15 years ago. No one but a neurosurgeon goes into your back is my recommendation. It was a success. Wow. Went from a "miserable" mess to a life. I was off work a very short time. I went in on Monday, had the operation at 1, was awake at 4, and home for lunch on Tuesday. L5 S1. I had eight staples and a one-inch scar. I had to have an MRI to show what the problem was.

Post 3

I'm not a huge fan of steroids, but if compressed spinal disc symptoms are severe, steroids can be a good treatment. Cortisone is usually used, in the form of an injection. It provides pain relief for up to two years. I got just had a cortisone injection for a compressed disc.

Post 2

There is a type of spine surgery called a microdiscectomy. It can be used as a compressed disc treatment and it is not invasive.

Before this surgery was developed, surgeons used to break spinal bones to get to the compressed disc and nerve. But during a microdiscectomy, bones are left intact. The surgeon makes a small cut and inserts a small instrument to get to the disc. There is a microscope at the end of the instrument so they can see on a monitor where they are. Recovery is also very fast with this operation. My cousin had it done and he returned to his normal routine in no time. So people should not be scared of spine surgery if they are in need of it.

Post 1

A spine brace sounds awful. I hope I don't have to wear one.

I was diagnosed with a compressed disc recently. My medical tests continue though, so I'm not sure what my treatment is going to be. For now, I'm taking muscle relaxants and pain relievers. I've been told to rest.

I have an EMG test next week. This test will check the health of my nerves because I have numbness and tingling in my legs. I think the doctor might recommend physical therapy, but I won't know for sure until the results of the EMG come back. They do know from my MRI that I don't need surgery, so that's good. I just want my compressed disc symptoms gone as soon as possible.

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