What Is the Treatment for a Desiccated L5 S1?


Quick Answer

The best treatment for desiccated disks in the back is decompression therapy, according to Irvine Spine and Sport. Surgical intervention is a possibility, but it has a low success rate. Epidural injections, pain and muscle relaxant medications, and physical therapy are all used to treat the symptoms of a desiccated disk.

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The cause of desiccated disks is compression of the spine, which forces more fluid from the disk than is reabsorbed, reports Irvine Spine and Sport. Decompression therapy treats this condition directly by decompressing the spine using traction. Newer computerized decompression therapy alternates between traction and relaxation of the spine, causing fluid to pump into the disks rapidly. During this therapy, disk pressures reduce from 25 millimeters of mercury, or mmHg, to -200 mmHg. This draws the core of the desiccated disk back into place, relieving pressure on the surrounding nerves.

Surgical alternatives to decompression therapy are not as promising, Irvine Spine and Sport advises. The most common corrective surgery is fusion of the two vertebrae adjacent to the desiccated disk. In almost all cases of desiccated disks treated with spinal fusion, a repeat surgery is required within seven years. The symptoms of desiccated disks may be treated using nerve blocks, narcotics, chiropractic care, and rest. These only provide relief of the symptoms of desiccated disks and do not directly address the cause of the nerve pain.

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