Non-Surgical Treatment for a Lumbar Herniated Disc


By Roger Härtl, MD

Most cases of lumbar herniated disc symptoms resolve on their own within six weeks, so patients are often advised to start with non-surgical treatments. However, this can vary with the nature and severity of symptoms.

Additional Therapies for Lumbar Herniated Disc

These other therapies are often helpful for longer-term pain relief:

See Physical Therapy Benefits For Back Pain

See Epidural Steroid Injections

See Understanding Spinal Manipulation

See Acupuncture: An Ancient Treatment for a Current Problem

See Can Massage Help Your Back Problem?

  • Physical therapy is important in teaching targeted stretching and exercises for rehabilitation. The program may also teach the patient safer ways to perform ordinary activities, such as lifting and walking.
  • Epidural injections of steroid medications can offer pain relief in some cases. An epidural steroid injection is intended to provide enough pain relief for the patient to make progress with rehabilitation. The effects vary, and pain relief is temporary.
  • Spinal manipulations performed by a chiropractor or osteopath may also ease pain and provide a better healing environment.
  • Acupuncture uses hair-thin needles inserted into the skin near the area of pain. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved acupuncture as a treatment for back pain.
  • Cognitive behavior therapy can be helpful in managing sciatica pain. The therapy helps people control and change self-defeating behaviors. A therapist helps the patient in face-to-face or online sessions. A therapist may also be helpful in teaching techniques such as mindful meditation and visualization to reduce pain.
  • Massage therapy can ease back pain by increasing blood circulation, relaxing muscles, and releasing the body’s natural pain relievers, called endorphins.

The treatment options for a lumbar herniated disc will largely depend on the length of time the patient has had symptoms and the severity of the pain. Specific symptoms (such as weakness or numbness), and the age of the patient may also be factors.

Written by Roger Härtl, MD
Dr. Rashad Trabulsi is a verified Chiropractor for