We talk about a disc herniation (discopathy) when there is a painful pathological condition affecting the spine, characterized by the loss of gelatinous material from the soft nucleus of the intervertebral discs. This loss results from the destruction of the fibers that surround the core, which is the outer fibrous ring of the intervertebral discs.
Among the most common causes of lumbar and cervical discopathy are severe physical trauma, degeneration, infections, and inflammation.
Traumatic disc herniation most often occurs suddenly after strenuous exercise. The degenerative type of hernia mainly affects the elderly, but can also occur in younger overweight patients.
Infectious disc herniation occurs due to various infectious diseases such as streptococci and others, and inflammatory and autoimmune discopathy occur in young people and are most often the result of inflammatory processes in the spine.
Recent studies show that drugs for discopathy, in combination with exercise, can alleviate the condition of patients suffering from this disease.
The treatment usually lasts up to several months, during which time the patient’s pain is relieved and his clinical profile is improved.
It is important to know that drug treatment should be combined with physiotherapy or special exercises to have a greater effect. After relieving the pain, it is good to undertake a rehabilitation procedure aimed at greatly improving the health of the back and spine.
The purpose of subsequent rehabilitation is to prevent possible future injuries. If medications and exercise do not give a satisfactory result, then surgery is recommended.
Medicines for discopathy
Before we introduce you to the most popular pharmaceutical products, we want to emphasize that it is not recommended to take self-medication.
In order for the treatment to have an effect, it must be prescribed by a doctor who will choose a medicine for your problem with the appropriate active ingredient and will determine the dose according to the degree of your disease.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
NSAIDs are medications that have analgesic, temperature-lowering, and anti-inflammatory effects. According to world statistics, non – steroidal drugs are among the most prescribed drugs for discopathy and rank 4th in sales after antibiotics, psychotropic drugs, and drugs prescribed for cardiovascular disease.
The most popular NSAIDs currently prescribed to treat a herniated disc are:
The drug is effective in moderate pain and is taken orally every 4 – 6 hours after meals. Ibuprofen has antipyretic and anti-inflammatory effects, quickly relieves pain, and reduces inflammation.
No prescription is required for purchase.
Diclofenac (Fastum, Dicloreum) – tablets
This is one of the most recommended and used medications for discopathy pain. Diclofenac has analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects.
The product is purchased only after a prescription has been issued.
Naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn, Prexan) is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug with anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. It is recommended that the drug be taken orally once a day or as prescribed by your doctor.
The product is purchased with a prescription.
The drug is intended to reduce pain in headaches, rheumatic diseases, discopathy, and other conditions. Aspirin is not recommended for children under 12 years of age.
The medicine is available without a prescription.
Action of NSAIDs:
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs soothe inflammation and reduce pain.
Side effects: stomach pain, gastrointestinal bleeding, and liver damage. It is recommended that active substances be taken at the same time as NSAIDs to counteract the side effects caused by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
These medications are recommended to relieve the pain of muscle spasms in the back caused by a herniated disc. This class of drugs has an analgesic effect, eliminates muscle spasms, and suppresses spinal reflexes.
Diazepam (Micropam, Ansiolin, Valium)
This muscle relaxant can be taken orally, intravenously, or intramuscularly. It relieves muscle spasms in disc herniation.
The drug relieves pain by relaxing muscle groups. The usual dose is 5 mg taken orally three times a day, but the daily dose can be increased if the doctor decides. This medicine for discopathy is also available as delayed-release tablets.
A prescription is required.
Action of relaxants:
Muscle relaxants have an analgesic effect, eliminate muscle spasms, and suppress spinal reflexes. Taking relaxants increases the effect of other drugs and procedures such as massage, manual therapy, and exercise.
Contraindications: This class of drugs for discopathy isa contraindicated in epilepsy, myasthenia gravis, Parkinson’s disease, and during pregnancy, in case of hypersensitivity to this group of drugs and others.
Side effects: Decreased blood pressure, nausea, drowsiness, and dyspepsia.
Oral steroids (Corticosteroids)
Corticosteroids are drugs that belong to the group of glucocorticoids and have a powerful anti-inflammatory effect. And because (as we mentioned) they have a really strong effect, they are prescribed in cases of severe discopathy.
The pharmaceutical product has a strong anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory effect and relieves pain in rheumatic conditions, discopathy and other conditions due to allergies or inflammation.
The medicine can only be obtained with a prescription.
Action: Oral steroids can be taken orally or in the form of injections that are given directly at the site of inflammation. The action of this class of drugs for discopathy brings rapid relief to the patient.
Side effects: These medicines should not be taken for more than a few weeks as there is a risk of side effects such as infections, swelling, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Opioids (narcotic drugs)
These are probably the strongest painkillers, but they are also the most dangerous and therefore are prescribed only in extreme cases and in very severe pain. Such drugs are Codeine, Hydrocodone, Morphine, and Meperidin.
Side effects: Despite their strong analgesic properties, opioids have not only many side effects, but also in a large percentage of cases, patients become addicted to them. Therefore, in recent years, this class of drugs is prescribed less and less to patients.
Medicines for discopathy with external use
Fastum Gel is currently one of the most popular over-the-counter medicated gels. Fastum is a group of non-steroidal drugs and is used to quickly relieve low back and back pain caused by herniated discs, exercise, postoperative pain, and other conditions.
Ketonal, Finalagel, Febrofid, Diclofenac (Voltaren, Diklovit) idometatsin, and Ibuprofen have a similar composition and action to Fastum Gel.
This medicine for external use has a local irritant and analgesic effect. Finalgon relieves pain quickly and effectively and can be purchased without a prescription.
Nikofleks, Analgos cream and others also belong to the drug group of Finalgon.
Modern pharmacology offers a wide variety of drugs to relieve the pain of a herniated disc, but as mentioned above, self-medication is not recommended (even if it involves the use of gel, ointment, and over-the-counter medication).
At the first pain, visit your doctor to consult with him about the appropriate medication for your problem.
You should also keep in mind that medications can cause side effects, so be careful how you administer them. Always seek detailed information from your doctor about possible side effects, even if you have been prescribed over-the-counter discopathy medication.
Remember that your condition depends entirely on you and your attitude to the disease. Everything is ultimately in your hands and you choose whether you will suffer from pain for the rest of your life and take medication to reduce it or change your lifestyle, give up bad habits, and start exercising regularly.
It has been proven that there is no more effective remedy for disc herniation than treatment with physiotherapy procedures or specialized physical exercises to strengthen the spine, back, and lower back.