Tips that will help you feel better and relieve your pain
You can use heat or cold therapy to relieve tension and pain in your muscles
A lumbar herniated disc can cause muscle tension. Cold and heat therapy can help relieve this tension. Heating can loosen tight muscles that cause spasms and increase blood flow. Cold therapy reduces local tissue temperature, which has an analgesic as well as anti-inflammatory effect.
- Heat your back prior to exercising or stretching to reduce muscle tension.
- Use a heating pad to heat your lower back during the day. (To avoid thermal injury, make sure you use a physical buffer, such as a paper towel.
- This same method can also be used after stretching, exercising or massage for pain relief.
- You can also heat your body with adhesive heat wrap which delivers low-level heat continuously over many hours. Warm baths and/or showers are other options.
Explore a variety of options to discover what works for you. Personal preference can often dictate the heat you use and the type of heat you use.
Moderate physical activity releases endorphins
Even though it might seem counterintuitive to some, exercise can help relieve pain if you have a herniated lumbar disc. The body releases endorphins when it exercises, which can help improve your mood as well as reduce pain perception.
People with lumbar herniated discs can tolerate activities that are low-impact, such as:
- Walking outside or on the treadmill
- An elliptical training device
- Bicycling on a recumbent bike
Hydrotherapy, which is water-based, may be a good option if your pain is severe. Water-based activities are recommended as the buoyancy of the water counteracts gravity. It also reduces the load on your spinal discs. You may be referred to a swimming or water-based physical therapy program by your healthcare provider.
Certain sleeping positions are helpful in relieving herniated disc pain
A lumbar herniated disc can cause pain that gets worse over the course of the night. A position that relieves pressure from your spine may be a good option. These are some good options:
- A pillow can be used under your knees to relieve tension in the lower back.
- Place a pillow under your knees and lie on your stomach. This will help keep your spine straight.
The position of your herniated disc will most likely determine the preferred sleeping position and pillow placements. To find what is best for you, try different pillows and positions.
The McKenzie Method is a great way to reduce sciatica pain
One type of physical therapy involves a special approach to exercise, the McKenzie Method. Lumbar herniated disc pain can be treated with the McKenzie Method. It involves a specific exercise program.
- Your symptoms will usually dictate which McKenzie Method exercises a physical therapy will recommend.
- After you feel better, your treatment will shift to longer-term rehabilitation. This will help strengthen your back and other key areas.
A back strengthening and stretching program should continue even after the lumbar herniated disc pain has subsided to decrease the likelihood of the lumbar discomfort returning.
The use of myofascial releases and/or massages may reduce pain
Myofascial pain is not the source of lumbar pain. However, it can be a secondary source. Bad posture and inactivity may make it worse. Myofascial Release, a type of manual therapy that is proven to reduce low back pain, is one example. Myofascial and postural training can be initiated in physical therapists, but there are also methods that can be done at-home.
- You can use a lacrosse ball or a massage stick to apply pressure to tender or trigger points in your lumbar area.
- Once you have identified a trigger/tender point, apply constant pressure for 1 to 2-minutes to allow the muscle to relax.
- You can repeat these steps to activate multiple trigger points in your lumbar area.
- The pressure being applied onto inflamed muscle may cause discomfort. Cold therapy (ice) is strongly recommended after myofascial relief to reduce pain.