6 Tips for Relieving Pain From Herniated Discs


Do you experience achy or sharp radiating pain to your shoulder, arm, buttock or leg? This may be an indicator of a bulging or herniated disc in your neck or back. Between each of your vertebrae,s that make up your spine, are small cushions called discs.


Herniated discs are more common in the 30-50 age bracket. A herniated disc is when the material inside the disc pushes outward, irritating the nerve. This can occur on either side of your spine and depending on the nerve affected in your neck or back, can cause radiating pain, numbness and loss of sensation.


Most people are able to relieve their pain from a herniated disc using medications and Physical Therapy in as soon as four to six weeks. However, in cases where the pain is very severe, surgery may be used as a last resort.


Common treatment options for relieving herniated disc pain:


  1. Relieve inflammation

For mild herniated disc pain, relieve the inflammation. For instance, applying a heating pad or ice pack to the affected area is a good way to temporarily relieve your pain and reduce inflammation. Take 10-15 minutes twice a day to lie on your stomach with one to two pillows under your hips. If the pain persists even after applying these remedies, it’s important to consult our Physical Therapists for a thorough evaluation.


  1. Careful movements

It’s important to minimize the pressure on your herniated disc. Avoid wearing high heels, sleeping on your stomach and standing or sitting for long periods of time. Additionally, make sure you keep your back straight and use your knees and hips when lifting heavy objects. Lastly, avoid repetitive bending or reaching, and keep good posture while standing and sitting.


  1. Exercise

There are special exercises and stretches that help relieve the pain associated with a herniated disc. Our Physical Therapists can help you learn and perform these exercises properly so that the amount of pressure on your disc and spine is reduced.  As your spinal muscles become stronger, the pressure on the disc will lessen, causing your pain to ease.


  1. Coming in for Physical Therapy

In most cases, seeing a Physical Therapist relieves the pain associated with a herniated disc and trains your body to prevent future back and neck pain. It’s important to make sure that if you are seeing a  physician for your disc problems, that they work in coordination with our Physical Therapists, so that you can recover as fast as possible.


  1. Over-the-counter medications

When the pain from a herniated disc is only moderate, an over-the-counter (OTC) pain medication can help relieve inflammation and improve pain. Ibuprofen, acetaminophen and naproxen are a few of the most popular choices for OTC pain meds. Because these provide only temporary relief from pain, a doctor should be consulted before making this a part of your daily pain relief regimen.


  1. Surgery

This option is reserved for only the most severe cases as most herniated discs can be successfully treated with Physical Therapy and conservative measures. Many herniated disc surgery options are minimally invasive and have high success rates, but the recovery process can be long. If surgery is needed, Physical Therapy is necessary to rehabilitate your spinal muscles and improve spinal joint function for a full recovery and prevention of further herniated discs.


There is much that can be done to relieve your back pain or neck pain from a herniated disc. Physical Therapy is the first line of treatment to a successful recovery. Learn more about our back and neck program today by giving PROCare Physical Therapy a call and meeting with one of our experienced Physical Therapists.