Herniated Disk | Treatment

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What can be done for the pain of a herniated disk?

Your doctor may suggest medicine for the pain. You can probably be more active after taking the pain medicine for 2 days. Becoming active will help you get better faster. If your pain is severe, your doctor may suggest that you rest in bed for 1 or 2 days.

If the pain medicine doesn't help, your doctor may give you a shot in your backbone. This might stop your pain. You may need more than 1 shot.

Sometimes stretching of the spine by your doctor or a chiropractor can help the pain.

Will exercises help the pain?

Yes, exercises can be helpful. Begin by stretching. Bend over forward and bend to the sides. Start these exercises after your back is a little stronger and doesn't hurt as much. The goal of exercise is to make your back and stomach muscles stronger. This will ease the pressure on your disk and make you hurt less. Ask your doctor about exercises for your back. Your doctor may want you to see a physical therapist to learn about safe back exercises.

What about my posture?

Good posture (standing up straight, sitting straight, lifting with your back straight) can help your back by reducing the pressure on your disk

  1. Bend your knees and hips when you lift something, and keep your back straight.
  2. Hold an object close to your body when you carry it.
  3. If you stand for a long time, put one foot on a small stool or box for a while.
  4. If you sit for a long time, put your feet on a small stool so your knees are higher than your hips.
  5. Don't wear high-heeled shoes.
  6. Don't sleep on your stomach.

What are my chances of getting better?

Your chances are good. Most people who have a herniated disk are better in about 4 weeks. Sometimes it takes longer. If you still have pain or numbness after 4 to 6 weeks, or if your signs get worse, talk with your doctor. Sometimes it takes surgery to relieve pain.

If you have trouble going to the bathroom or have weight loss, pain at night or more pain or weakness than usual in your backbone, tell your doctor right away. These might be the signs of a more serious problem.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 03/14
Created: 02/99

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