What Can I Do for a Lumbar Herniated Disc?
For patients with pain not severe enough to interfere with their daily life, there are at-home remedies that may be able to help pain associated with a lumbar herniated disc. These treatments include:
At Home Treatments for a Lumbar Herniated Disc
- OTC Medication– Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication may provide relief from pain. Take these medications only as instructed on the bottle to avoid any negative reactions.
- Relaxation– Find a comfortable position to rest in. Try lying on your side with a pillow between your knees or lying on a medium-firm mattress with a pillow under both your head and knees. Keep in mind to avoid staying in one position for too long.
- Take a walk– Take a 10 to 20 minute walk every 2 to 3 hours. Only walk on a level surface, avoiding stairs, hills, or slopes. Keep in mind to walk only as far as you can manage without feeling pain.
- Use heat or ice– Alternating between heat and ice packs may provide relief from painful symptoms. Try using a heating pad on the low or medium setting for 15 to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours. Alternate with an ice pack for 15 to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours.
What If I Need Additional Treatment for a Lumbar Herniated Disc?
While lumbar herniated discs can be quite painful, the symptoms are short-lived for many people. However, for patients whose symptoms do not dissipate over time, surgical treatment may be needed.
Houston Physicians’ Hospital offers the following surgical treatments for a lumbar herniated disc:
- Lumbar fusion
- Lumbar laminectomy
- Lumbar microdiscectomy
In cases where symptoms do not relieve themselves, these surgical treatments may provide relief. Typically, these procedures are recommended if non-surgical treatments prove to be ineffective after 4-6 weeks of treatment.
How Do I Recover from a Lumbar Herniated Disc?
Once surgery has been performed for a lumbar herniated disc, there are several general facets of the postoperative care that can be expected. Patients should limit the amount of bending, lifting or twisting they do for at least six weeks in order to prevent the risk of the disc becoming herniated again. Because the covering of the disc has poor blood supply, complete healing may take three to four months. However, light movement is recommended once the initial six weeks after the surgery has passed. A slow exercise program consisting of stretching, strengthening, and conditioning may help heal the secondary soft tissue component of the back pain. Speak with your Houston Physicians’ Hospital physician before beginning any sort of exercise program after surgery to prevent reinjury of the site.