Bulging or herniated disks can require decompression surgery if physical therapy or other nonsurgical care does not reduce back pain after 12 weeks, reports Spine-health.com. Nonsurgical options include chiropractic manipulation, anti-inflammatory medications and steroid injections.
In general, nonsurgical treatments are pursued for the first six to 12 weeks following the onset of symptoms, according to Spine-health.com. If these treatments do not improve symptoms after this time period, spinal decompression surgery is considered as an option. Surgery is also considered if symptoms progress during these treatments or the resulting pain prevents the patient from a normal level of function.
Chiropractic care is a nonsurgical treatment of bulging disks, explains Spine-health.com. Chiropractic manipulation and physical therapy can increase patient function through improved mobility and relieve pain around the affected area. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are used to reduce inflammation associated with bulging disks, and thus take pressure off of local nerve roots. Epidural injections of steroids can have even greater effects on bulging disks, last up to a year and work in roughly 50 percent of disk herniation cases. Surgical options focus on removing disk tissue impinging on nerves and include microdiscectomy, which is done through a small incision and does not require much soft tissue dissection. Other surgical options include chymopapain injections and microendoscopic surgery.