Medically reviewed by Dr. Brian Paris, D.C on Jan. 20, 2019.
If you’re in search of herniated disc treatment options, you’re not alone.
One out of three people reading this has a herniated disc, which occurs when your discs — the “shock absorbers” of your spine — become damaged, bulge or break open.
Thousands of people who suffer from this common condition hit the internet every month hoping to find pain relief solutions and herniated disc treatment options that really work.
I’m happy to tell you, you’ve come to the right place.
We’ve put together the 10 best solutions for herniated disc treatment. And these aren’t the typical treatments you’ll read about everywhere else. (We’ll talk a little bit about those and why they can be ineffective in just a minute…)
In this article, you’ll learn about safe, natural, nonsurgical herniated disc treatment options that can get you back to living the pain-free life you deserve ASAP.
Let’s begin with a brief explanation of what exactly a herniated disc is. If you want to skip to a different section, use the quick links below.
Table of Contents
[Section 1] 10 best herniated disc relief solutions
[Section 2] What is a herniated disc?
[Section 3] Causes and risk factors for herniated discs
[Section 4] Common herniated disc treatments
What is a herniated disc?
The term “herniated disc’ is used to describe what happens when the outermost part of one or more of the discs in your spine begins to weaken and the inner soft part starts to press outward, creating an outward bulge.
It’s just one of the terms the medical community uses this common condition of the spinal column.
If you’ve been told you have a herniated disc, a slipped disc, a prolapsed disc, a bulging disc, a ruptured disc, or even degenerative disc disease, it’s essentially the same thing.
When material inside the disc called the nucleus pulposus, breaks through the disc’s annulus – the tough outer wall – you have a herniation as the material protrudes through the wall.
If the herniated disc occurs in the lumbar spine, this can lead to severe sharp, shooting pain that travels down the back of your leg, numbness and tingling in your legs, leg pain, burning low back pain, and even leg weakness.
If it occurs in the cervical spine, it can cause neck pain and pain that radiates through your arm, neck, jaw and head.
Or, it can cause no symptoms at all. In 97 percent of cases, a herniated disc occurs without symptoms … for now.
That means many people have disc degeneration and don’t even know it.
The problem is that at any time the jelly-like center of your spinal disc can be pushed out of place, and end up pushing on a nerve root (sort of like what would happen if you squeezed a jelly donut).
This is what causes the pain associated with a herniated disc, and it can come on without warning.
For those of you who already struggle with such pain, you know that getting herniated disc pain relief can make all the difference in your quality of life and your happiness.
In order to diagnose a herniated disc, your doctor will most likely take your medical history and perform a physical examination.
They may order imaging tests such as an x-ray or CT scan.
Please note: The loss of bladder or bowel control is possible if a herniated disc is pressing on nerves that control the bowel and bladder. This is considered a medical emergency, so you should get to the emergency room as quickly as possible if either of these things happens to you.
What are the causes and risk factors for herniated discs?
The two most common reasons for a disc to herniate are trauma and muscle imbalances.
Muscle imbalances relate to what are called “postural dysfunctions.”
Here are a few common postural dysfunctions.
Postural dysfunctions put abnormal pressure on the disc that will cause increased wear and tear over time.
Eventually, the weak spot will give way and make contact with the spinal nerve, causing pain.
“The most important thing to understand about herniated discs is that, barring trauma, they do not happen overnight.”
You may become symptomatic very quickly, but it takes a long time for conditions to be right for the nerve to be put under enough pressure to cause pain.
That’s why when you treat a herniated disc, you must address the underlying causes — which more often than not are muscle imbalances and postural dysfunctions.
Common treatments, which we’ll cover next, often just address the symptoms.
The most common treatments for herniated discs
Common conservative treatments for herniated discs include cortisone injections, epidural injections, pain relievers such as over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), hot packs, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and physical therapy.
Occasionally, if the pain is severe, a doctor will prescribe bed rest for a few days.
There are also a handful of surgical procedures for a herniated disc, all of which have two main goals: to take pressure off the nerve and stabilize the joints.
Unfortunately, most traditional treatments fail because they simply address the symptoms and fail to address what’s causing your herniated disc in the first place.
“Your herniated disc is a physical problem, and it requires a physical solution. “
There are no pills or injections that can create postural balance in your body, which is what is necessary to reduce the pressure on the nerve.
Now here’s the good news — you have options for pain relief for your herniated disc.
Pain medications may be suggested as the “first” or “best” choice by your conventional physician, but they can cause side effects worse than the condition you’re trying to treat, and they are only a temporary solution — not one that will heal your herniated disc on any level.
There are multiple alternative options — some of which you probably haven’t heard of — that carry no risks of side effects and have exemplary success rates.
Want to know more? Here are my recommendations for safe and effective herniated disc treatments.
Recommended herniated disc treatment options
1. Identify and fix your muscle imbalances
Injuries or a sudden awkward movement (like lifting a heavy object) can cause a herniated disc.
But more often they are caused by repetitive strains that occur slowly over a lifetime.
Sitting or standing with poor posture, inactivity, hunching over your computer for long hours…
All of these can lead to varying degrees of muscle imbalances, where one muscle is used more often (and therefore grows stronger) than an opposing muscle (which becomes weakened).
These muscle imbalances, in turn, lead to postural dysfunctions, in which your bones remain in an abnormal position, leading to uneven and excessive compression and torsion that causes discs to bulge or herniate.
To get herniated disc relief and prevent further damage to your spine, you have to reverse your muscle imbalances.
This is one of our fundamental teachings, because it is essential to both herniated disc relief and overall healing.
The best and easiest way to identify and fix your muscle imbalances is with my Lose the Back Pain® System.
You’ll go through a series of self-assessments designed to help you pinpoint which postural dysfunctions you have, then you’ll discover a customized series of corrective exercises, stretches and self-treatments that are unique to your condition.
2. Targeted exercises for herniated disc treatment
Many physicians and physical therapists tend to prescribe a generic set of exercises and stretches, such as the standing hamstring stretch or the pelvic tilt.
These generic exercises may or may not alleviate your herniated disc pain, but they can significantly worsen your situation.
Exercises like Pilates, yoga and water activities are safe and often helpful if you have a herniated disc, but specific exercises to target your muscle imbalances are essential for addressing the underlying cause.
That’s because the exercises and stretches you perform must be specific to your body’s current condition.
Each one of us has different muscles that are tight and weak.
So before you can begin choosing the proper exercises, you must identify which muscles in your own body need to be addressed.
This process of identifying your muscle imbalances is the first stage of Muscle Balance Therapy, which we teach in our Lose the Back Pain® System.
You begin with a series of self-assessment tests to help you identify the muscles you need to target.
With that information, we provide you with a series of specific exercises and stretches that will help balance your muscles, find pain relief and prevent a recurrence.
Once you know what’s weak, you can strengthen your underworked, weak muscles and perform targeted stretches to loosen up those tight, overworked muscles.
Before you begin performing any kind of herniated disc exercise, we strongly recommend you first undergo these Muscle Balance Therapy self-assessment tests.
You can learn more about how to get started by clicking right here.
3. Far-infrared heat
A far-infrared heating pad penetrates deeper than skin level, reaching the tissues and muscle underneath.
This not only gives you relief from back pain and sciatica caused by herniated discs, it also improves circulation to the area to fight inflammation and promote healing by bringing in needed nutrients.
Hands down, a far-infrared heating pad is the best heating pad available for pain relief today.
And that’s not just my opinion. Research backs me up on this…
For instance, a double-blind, placebo-controlled study showed that IR heating pads provide are safe, easy to use, and reduced back pain by 50% over the course of six weeks.
You can read more about the science behind far infrared treatment right here.
4. Natural pain relief cream
Pain creams can provide quick relief, but they’re not all created equal.
There are a number of options on the market, but most contain harsh chemicals that you don’t want to put on your body.
My Rub On Relief® formula uses a blend of whole plant oils and some powerful plant extracts. In fact, I just updated the formula and it’s better than ever.
If you want to learn more about the incredible ingredients in my new formula — and how they can help you — you can read more about it by clicking here.
5. Proteolytic enzymes
When you have a herniated disc, your body sends prostaglandins in to cause pain and inflammation.
This signals your body to take it easy and provides a mechanism for healing to take place.
But your body also needs proteolytic enzymes to shut down the inflammation process and clean up excess fibrin, or internal scar tissue, created during the healing process.
Your body makes these special enzymes. They’re completely natural.
The problem is your levels start to nosedive after about the age of 27. You need to replenish them. You can get different enzymes from foods — pineapples (bromelain) and papaya (papein) are good examples.
But the easiest way to get the proteolytic enzymes your body needs is with a dietary supplement. The best will contain a variety of different enzymes as well as other pain-relieving natural ingredients.
6. Inversion therapy
By hanging upside down, you increase the space between your vertebrae, relaxing the pressure on your discs, ligaments and nerve roots.
Increasing intra-vertebral space means reducing pressure on the nerve roots.
That translates to less back pain and a lower likelihood of nerve root damage.
When you oscillate up and down on an inversion table, it creates a pumping action for the fluids around your spinal discs.
This action forces waste out and draws in fluid around your discs, helping to realign your spine when used in the long term.
Learn more about the health benefits of inversion therapy for pain relief by clicking right here.
7. Drink plenty of pure water (ideally with lemon)
The inner material of your spinal discs are made of roughly 70% water, so drinking water regularly throughout the day is important.
You can boost the benefits even more by squeezing in some lemon juice, as this may help restore proper blood pH.
If your body is too acidic, it will promote disease and degeneration.
Acidic conditions can actually cause muscles to constrict and inhibit the exchange of nutrients and waste products in muscle cells, causing fatigue, soreness and pain.
In fact, a pH imbalance affects all cellular activity in your body and can lead to a wide range of degenerative diseases and symptoms.
While lemon juice is acidic, it has an alkalizing effect in the body, which is why adding it to your water is a simple way to promote pain relief and healing.
8. Clean up your diet
What does your diet have to do with your back pain? Far more than you may know.
A varied diet rich in fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and proteins will give your body the nutrients it needs to repair herniated discs, injuries, and plain old daily wear-and-tear.
But even beyond this, eating more fresh (and raw) fruits and vegetables will help alkalize your body, whereas sugar, processed foods and alcohol will create an acidic (and therefore pain- and disease-producing) environment.
9. Reduce your stress levels
Achieving lasting herniated disc relief is not only a whole-body effort — it’s a mind-body one.
If you’re chronically stressed, your body will release large amounts of cortisol, the stress hormone.
This isn’t a problem normally, but excess cortisol and other stress hormones intensify and increase inflammation in your body, which can exacerbate pain.
It also impacts the functioning of your immune system and has even been linked to weight gain.
So be generous with stress-relieving activities like exercise, journaling, warm baths or long talks with friends… as these are a crucial component of living pain-free.
We highly recommend that you try meditation, as it has scientifically-proven health benefits for your mind and well being.
You can learn more about meditation by clicking right here.
10. Lose weight
If you’re overweight, the extra pounds will put an unnecessary burden on your discs, speeding up the degeneration process and making them more vulnerable to herniation.
We know that saying lose weight is a lot easier said than done. But don’t worry, there are powerful, proven weight-loss strategies that don’t rely on fad diets.
Learn more about highly effective weight loss strategies by clicking right here.
So now you know.
There are safe alternatives to drugs and costly surgeries that will help with herniated disc relief and healing.
They will take time and practice, but in the long run you will find lasting relief while preventing future recurrences.
Editor’s note: This article has been reviewed by a member of our medical advisory board. The content provided is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult with your physician if you have any questions about your health.