How to recover from a prolapsed disc

Updated July 20, 2017

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

Things You'll Need

  • Painkillers
  • Anti-inflammatories
  • Hot-water bottle
  • Bathtub
  • Epsom salts
  • Percussion massage device
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

David Coates has more than 30 years of experience as a professional writer. He worked as a journalist with "Maclean's" magazine and "The Globe and Mail" in Toronto. In 1989, Coates formed his own company, providing writing, editing, media relations and training services to clients. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Guelph, Ontario.