If you are wondering how to heal a herniated disc, there are several possible ways. But first, let’s talk about what a herniated disc is.
The spinal canal created by your vertebrae houses your spinal cord, from which your spinal nerves emerge. A herniated disc (or a herniated disk) occurs when some of the nuclei of one of the cushioning discs between two vertebrae push outward onto spinal nerve roots, causing pain.
Most frequently, a herniated disc occurs in the lumbar spine of the lower back, though it can potentially happen between any two vertebrae in the spinal column.
A disc herniation can cause a variety of symptoms, including back pain, leg pain, arm pain, muscle weakness, and tingling or numbness in the areas supplied by the affected nerves. It’s also possible to have a disk herniation without any symptoms (though this is rarer).
If you have a herniated disc, you may be wondering what treatment options are available to you or if there are things you can do to help relieve pain. Fortunately, we have a list of seven pain management tips for you to follow. Give them a try and see if your pain subsides.
Tips for How To Heal a Herniated Disc
1. See a Pain Management Specialist
One of the best things you can do for your pain is to see a pain management specialist. Here at Metro Healthcare Partners, we are highly experienced in identifying and treating pain from herniated discs. We don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to pain management. Instead, we use a comprehensive approach that combines multidisciplinary techniques to provide each patient with the best possible experience.
2. Move Carefully
Movement is important for avoiding stiffness and decreased mobility when dealing with a herniated disc. However, it is essential to make sure your movements are carefully executed so you don’t further exacerbate your spinal nerve inflammation. If you’re wondering how to heal a herniated disc, the answer is not to engage in intense, highly strenuous physical activity. You should also avoid repetitive reaching and/or bending motions that can cause further nerve compression when dealing with a herniated disc.
When you visit Metro Health Partners, we can provide you with detailed recommendations for spinal movements you can perform, as well as movements you should avoid. Intentional spinal movements as a part of a physical therapy program can be an effective form of herniated disc treatment when done correctly.
The spine can move in six primary ways:
- Neutral (this is the natural position you maintain when you’re sitting or standing with good posture and with your core muscles activated).
- Extension (in this position, the spine curves inward and the chest lifts outward. The back muscles activate in this position while the abdominal muscles deactivate).
- Flexion (in this position, your spine rounds and your abdomen activates. Flexion is a common spinal movement in yoga and other exercises because it helps to stretch the muscles of the back while activating the abdomen).
- Axial rotation (this is the position that allows us to turn the upper half of the body sideways while the lower half of the body stays forward). Axial rotation can potentially contribute to disc degeneration if you do it forcefully and continuously over time. You should not include it in your pain management regimen unless specifically recommended by your physical therapist.
- Axial extension (during this spinal movement, the arms and hands reach upward and the spine lengthens and straightens toward the sky). This movement may relieve pressure between the discs.
- Lateral flexion (in this final spinal movement, the upper body bends up and outward to the right or left. The body faces forward but the torso reaches to one side.
If you are unsure which spinal movements are safe to conduct when you have a herniated disc, talk to your physical therapist. He or she can help you understand how to heal a herniated disc with gentle movements.
3. Exercise as Advised
Though you may not feel like moving when you’re dealing with painful herniated disc symptoms, it is important not to be sedentary. Exercise or is an important herniated disc treatment. It is also essential for optimal physical and mental health.
Exercises and stretches that may help relieve your pain when performed as directed by your physical therapist include:
- Towel hamstring stretch
- Neck stretches
- Back flexion stretch
- Seated chair hamstring stretch
Our physical therapists will be happy to show you exactly how to perform the above movements to optimize your health and avoid damaging your herniated discs further.
4. Reduce Inflammation
Inflammation goes hand-in-hand with herniated discs. When you relieve the inflammation, you can help reduce your pain. There are different ways to reduce inflammation in the affected area. You may apply ice or heat to the area as recommended by your pain management specialist. You may also want to lie on the stomach for up to 15 minutes, twice per day with one or two pillows placed beneath your hips. These remedies may help you experience some relief from your herniated disc pain.
5. Take Over-the-Counter Medications as Needed
Over-the-counter pain medication could relieve some of the pain and inflammation associated with herniated discs. Before taking any medication for your pain, be sure to talk to your physical therapist. There are side effects associated with chronic use of over-the-counter medications for pain relief. Your physical therapist can tell you more about those side effects and recommend the most effective pain management Brooklyn options for your situation.
6. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Excess weight can put a lot of strain on your spinal column. If you are overweight and wondering how to treat a herniated disc, taking measures to lose weight may help relieve your discomfort. Be sure to use healthy measures to get rid of excess pounds. If you need advice on how to maintain a healthy weight, your physical therapist may have recommendations for you.
7. Consider Surgery
Though it is only a worst-case option, surgery is available if other treatment methods don’t work. Some surgery options for herniated discs are minimally invasive, so be sure to ask about all available methods.
Learn More About How To Heal a Herniated Disc
If you are struggling with chronic back pain, we encourage you to learn more about how to heal a herniated disc. The skilled physical therapists and pain management specialists here at Metro Healthcare Partners in Brooklyn, NY, can analyze your case and provide you with a herniated disc treatment recommendation. We accept no-fault insurance, PIP (Personal Injury Protection), workers’ compensation, and other health insurance plans. To get started, contact us today. Same-Day appointments may be available.