A bulging or herniated disc in the lumbar spine is treated with physical therapy, epidural injections and medications, according to Spine-health. Treatment is specific to the patient and depends on the length of time he has been experiencing pain as well as the severity and presence of other symptoms. Non-surgical treatment is the first approach; however, if improvement doesn't occur within six to 12 weeks, surgery may be an option.
Most patients suffering from lumbar herniated discs recover on their own over time, states Spine-health. In many cases, the pain can be debilitating, and recovery through non-operative methods can take an extensive period of time. Medications along with chiropractic, osteopathic and physical therapy are used in the initial period. If the patient shows improvement or can return to normal functioning within the first six weeks, non-surgical treatment continues as needed.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs reduce the inflammation of a herniated disc, notes Spine-health. Stronger anti-inflammatory medications, such as oral steroids or epidural injections, can be used, but they pose higher risks and may not be effective enough to rule out surgery. Patients who don't improve through non-surgical methods of treatment can benefit from surgical compression of the nerve root. Surgery is often more cost-effective than prolonged, ongoing treatment.