Back pain caused by herniated or bulging discs can be very painful. The pain is often debilitating and affects every aspect of your life from being able to tie your shoes to loading the dishwasher to playing with your children.
If you suffer from low back pain and are considering surgery, you may want to give some conservative therapies a try first. I’ve suffered from a mangled L5/S1 disc for about 3 years, and I’ve learned some good techniques for reducing pain.
First, you need to consult your doctor. My article should not be substituted for medical advice. Rather, my article is based on personal experience that may or may not help you.
You may need to get an MRI to verify that you do have a disc problem. Oftentimes, low back pain can be referred pain so you might need a different treatment.
Once you have a diagnosis, ask your doctor for 2 prescriptions: a referral/script to a good physical therapist and an order for an epidural steroid injection.
How the Epidural Steroid Injection Can Help Relieve Disc Pain
The injection may or may not help you, but it is one conservative approach that you can try. In my case, I had so much inflammation in my L5/S1 disc area, that over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications just were not strong enough to reduce it. I needed to reduce the inflammation in order for physical therapy and yoga to be beneficial.
You may be able to have up to 3 injections over a period of time to help reduce your inflammation. I did experience some pain relief as a result of the shot. However, be very careful not to overdo it after the injection and throw yourself right back into misery.
How a Good Physical Therapist Can Help
Ask your doctor or friends and family for a recommendation. A good physical therapist will work with you and should listen to you. The therapist will help you with proper body mechanics and will give you exercises designed to reduce your overall pain. You may never be 100% pain free, but you might gain enough mobility and pain-free days to improve your quality of life.
Do the exercises at home. Don’t skimp on this or your recovery will be much slower.
As you progress with movement, your physical therapist will then help you work on exercises to improve your strength. As your core strength increases, your back pain should decrease.
You can also practice yoga to help your recovery. Avoid forward-bend motions with low back pain as it may aggravate your pain. Check out my article on using yoga to relieve herniated disc pain for yoga positions that you can learn yourself at home.
Remember to practice your exercises and stretches every day. If you sit at a computer all day, then you are probably aggravating your pain. Get up at least every other hour and do your stretches. Don’t worry if your co-workers stare at you! Remember your goal is to reduce your pain.
What if the Injections and Physical Therapy Don’t Help
If you’ve exhausted all the conservative therapies – ice, rest, injections, physical therapy – then you may need to consult your doctor about surgical solutions.