back pain


A herniated disk can press on the nerves in your spine and cause pain, weakness and sometimes numbness. Sometimes these symptoms can be severe enough to disrupt your life.

Most of the time the problems from your herniated disk should start to improve on their own within a few weeks. In the meantime, try one or more of these treatments to help you feel better.


Take it easy for a few days. Rest can relieve swelling and give your back time to heal. While your back hurts, avoid exercise and other activities where you have to bend or lift.


Take an over-the-counter pain medicine like ibuprofen or naproxen. These medicines can help relieve your pain and bring down swelling. Just don’t use these for more than 10 days without talking to your doctor.

Physical Therapy

Some exercises can help improve the symptoms of a herniated disc. A physical therapist can teach you which exercise strengthen the muscles that support your back.
Physical therapy programs also include:

  • Aerobic exercises – such as walking or riding a stationary bicycle
  • Ice and heat
  • Stretching exercises to keep your muscles flexible
  • Electrical muscle stimulation
  • Ultrasound therapy


If rest, pain relievers, and physical therapy don’t help with your pain, your doctor can inject steroid medicine into space around your spinal nerve. This is called an epidural injection. The steroid can help bring down the swelling, help you move more easily, and ease pain from a herniated disk.


Most people with a herniated disk don’t need surgery. Rest and other treatments should start to improve your symptoms within 4 to 6 weeks. But if your pain doesn’t improve, surgery might be an option.

Talk to your doctor about surgery if:

  • You’re not getting relief from pain relievers, injections, and physical therapy.
  • Your symptoms keep getting worse.
  • You have trouble standing or walking.
  • You can’t control your bowels or bladder.


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