Self-management

Lifestyle and home remedies

  • Take pain relievers. Over-the-counter medications — such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen (Aleve, others) — may help reduce the pain associated with a herniated disk.
  • Use heat or cold. Initially, cold packs can be used to relieve pain and inflammation. After a few days, you may switch to gentle heat to give relief and comfort.
  • Avoid too much bed rest. Too much bed rest can lead to stiff joints and weak muscles — which can complicate your recovery. Instead, rest in a position of comfort for 30 minutes, and then go for a short walk or do some work. Try to avoid activities that worsen your pain during the healing process.

Prevention

To help prevent a herniated disk:

  • Exercise. Strengthening the trunk muscles helps stabilize and support the spine.
  • Maintain good posture. Good posture reduces the pressure on your spine and disks. Keep your back straight and aligned, particularly when sitting for long periods. Lift heavy objects properly, making your legs — not your back — do most of the work.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight puts more pressure on the spine and disks, making them more susceptible to herniation.