How to recover from a prolapsed disc

Written by david coates
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How to recover from a prolapsed disc
A prolapsed disc occurs typically in the lower back. (Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Recovery from a prolapsed disc is often complicated, depending upon the extent of the injury. While many people have weakened discs, they do not feel pain until the disc bulges onto a root nerve, typically the sciatic nerve in the lower back. This may be triggered by improper lifting, an injury, ageing, an awkward movement or simply by sneezing. The result is severe back or neck pain, leg weakness and other debilitating symptoms. The condition often appears and disappears overnight and usually eases over several weeks. There are several recovery regimens for a prolapsed disc, ranging from the sedentary to the surgical.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Painkillers
  • Anti-inflammatories
  • Hot-water bottle
  • Bathtub
  • Epsom salts
  • Percussion massage device

Show MoreHide


  1. 1

    Take painkillers and anti-inflammatory medication to reduce swelling of the disc and surrounding tissue. Tilt your pelvis by lying flat your back by with your knees drawn up to ease pressure. Place a hot-water bottle on the affected area or soak in a hot bathtub with Epsom salts to relax muscles.

    How to recover from a prolapsed disc
    A pelvic tilt with the knees up eases pressure on the disc. (Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)
  2. 2

    Begin gentle back exercises if you are mobile and can do so without severe pain. Stretch the muscles of the buttock, back of the thigh and calf to progressively stretch the sciatic nerve. One such exercise is known as a back extension, which strengthens muscle surrounding the spine and eases lower back spasms that can trigger the prolapse.

    How to recover from a prolapsed disc
    Back extension exercises will strengthen muscles and ease spasms. (Jupiterimages/ Images)
  3. 3

    Visit a chiropractor or registered massage therapist for back treatments. Alternatively, apply a percussion massage device to relieve pain and stimulate muscle recovery in the affected area.

    How to recover from a prolapsed disc
    A massage therapist or chiropractor can help patients with a prolapsed disc. ( Images)
  4. 4

    Consider surgery if your condition is the same or worse after 6 to 8 weeks. A doctor may determine whether surgery is advisable, based upon age and the severity of the prolapsed disc.

    How to recover from a prolapsed disc
    In some cases, back surgery may be advisable. (Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Tips and warnings

  • Disc recovery exercises are found on medical and pain-management websites or by consulting your doctor.
  • Physical exercise, such as yoga, reduces the chances of a prolapsed disc recurrence..
  • Do not bend forward from the waist, as this exacerbates the prolapse.
  • Refrain from heavy lifting and sitting in one position for long periods.

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