5 Steps to Recovering from Back Injury (Herniated Disc)
It’s one of the most excruciating pains and inconvenient experiences.
I’ve been one of the lucky ones to have experienced 3 back injuries within the last couple years, two herniated discs and a sprain … two from lifting and the sprain from kids sleeping with us in bed (little feet in the back).
How I ended up with a sprain from my kids is beyond me but it happened.
The very first time I experienced a herniated disc was the worst.
I literally had to crawl to get from point A to B and that in itself was painful.
Then trying to stand up took me about 10 minutes.
Back injuries are no joke and you should take every precautionary measure to prevent it.
I know, I know, who am I to say that when I injured myself 3 times.
Well at least I can comfortably recommend methods that will help you to recover.
I just experienced my latest back injury while doing squats.
My back was too rounded and I ended up feeling a weird sensation in my lower back.
I don’t know if there’s any truth to this but it seems that after the first injury, my back has become more susceptible to injuries.
One thing is for sure, I learned how to manage and recover from it….
….and I’m focused on preventing it from happening again…..knock on wood.
So, here’s my advice:
1. See a physician
First and foremost, go see a physician … not a chiropractor.
That’s just my recommendation.
I went to a chiropractor and all I got were xrays and instructions for applying ice and heat.
A physician is more thorough in my opinion and depending on the type and severity of your injury, will make recommendations for therapy or surgery and even prescribe pain killers.
I’m not one who enjoys taking any kind of medication, in fact I try to let my headaches go away by themselves but with back pain, I can only handle so much.
I was prescribed with 600mg of ibuprofen which was god sent. It helps me immensely.
2. Keep moving
Don’t sit or lay in one spot for too long.
Believe it or not, it helps or at least it helped me to move about but painful to go up any steps so you may want to walk around a level floor.
Sitting or laying down for lengthy periods of time just made it worse.
My physician even encouraged it so long as I didn’t bend over too much or too often.
3. Apply ice and heat
There seems to be some debate as to which to apply.
Some say ice, some say heat, and some say both.
It’s crazy to think that even in today’s day and age, there is no scientific evidence indicating which is more beneficial.
So I applied ice during the first few days to a week after the injury and then applied heat.
The heat works wonders for me.
The ice just numbed the area for a short period but the heat actually relieved any pain.
You still need to ice it for the first few days but applying heat will ease a lot of pain.
I have this particular heating pad and love it.
It automatically turns off after a certain period of time so it’s safe to sleep with.
Try both and see what works for you.
4. Light exercises/stretches
There are few exercises that I researched online.
These exercises seem to relieve the pain by squeezing the herniated disc back in, relieving pressure from the nerve.
One is where you lay prone on your stomach and raise your chest with your back arched and your pelvis to the floor.
Another is where you stand and lean backwards.
Check out this video on the top 3 exercises for herniated discs. It gives good instructions on what to do.
I know this is contrary to no. 2 but you really do need to rest your back and when I mean rest, I mean sleep.
Even when the pain feels like it has subsided, wait another week just to be 100% sure.
Don’t lift … period.
You’ll just aggravate it more, believe me … I know.
I was so anxious to get back to lifting that the second I was able to bend over without any sensation, I hit the weights and guess what … I irritated the hell out of it.
Don’t worry about the loss of strength or muscle mass.
You’ll get it back within two to four weeks if you’re consistent.
Overall, I’d have to say that recovery ranges anywhere between two to six weeks if it’s acute but if it’s more severe, you may be looking at a few months.
Fortunately for me, the longest recovery period was 3 weeks but I rested ALOT.
I hope this helps.