A herniated disc is extremely painful. If you’ve ever had a herniated disc you are probably wondering why I didn’t add a few exclamation points…well OK – it’s extremely painful!!!!
If you are currently suffering with the pain of a herniated disc, I want to help you through it if I can. I have personally “gone through” a herniated disc and know exactly how bad it can get.
PLEASE remember that the keywords are “gone through” – in other words you MUST remember that it’s only temporary. No matter how bad the pain gets, remember this fact. Your pain is going to go away!
It just takes time.
When I was going through it my doctors just prescribed bed rest and a lot of heavy painkillers. Unfortunately, I was afraid of becoming addicted to the painkillers so I avoided them as much as I could. Mistake.
None of the doctors or the physiotherapists ever told me to ALWAYS remember my pain would be temporary.
I wish they had.
As a result of the extreme pain and lack of sleep due to the pain, a went through depression, heavy anxiety, and eventually acrophobia set in (just to put a cherry on it 😉 Then the medications were prescribed to deal with all that.
It was a vicious cycle to say the least.
Finally someone truly helped me! It was my chiropractor. He had been practicing for decades and it was actually his LAST week of work before retiring.
He gave me some incredible advice and a reality check. He said he had seen patients with herniated discs many, many, many times.
This is what he said (paraphrasing):
“You can see your doctor, take your medications, go to physiotherapy, lie on your side, lie on the floor, lie on a bed – HELL…you can lie UNDER a bed, read the Bible and pray to God for some relief, but only one thing is going to cure you….
And that’s what happened. I was in absolute extreme agony for about 2 weeks, then a very slight improvement, but still not enough to sleep. Then 2 more weeks later going to the bathroom wasn’t a quite as bad – but still a horrid experience.
I’m not going to give the typical advice on the exercises you should do, what professionals to see, what medications to take, or what God to pray to. I’m going to give the my personal advice in a list by priority. This is what I learned to DO and NOT to do.
10 Tips During Recovery
- REMEMBER it’s a temporary situation – it will pass!
- Don’t be afraid to take your pain medication – you won’t become addicted if you are actually in a lot of pain – just make sure to stop all strong pain medications (like Oxycontin) as soon some everyday Advil or Tylenol 3 can give you some slight relief – you will know when the right time is.
- Don’t worry if you can’t sleep because your body is tougher and smarter than you think. You will eventually doze off – it might not be for long! Maybe just a minute or two, but it still helps. This is why you shouldn’t fear the pain medication in the early stages – it can help you sleep.
- You might not be able to lay on a bed or any furniture at all – so don’t! I was a floor dweller for an entire month. Get yourself all set up somewhere on the floor. Keep warm with some blankets and sheets of course. Lots of pillows around in case you need them.
- Try laying on your side and slide a pillow between your knees – that was the miracle move for me.
- As soon as the most extreme pain has it passed (AND IT WILL!) and if you can afford it, get yourself to a physiotherapist who has experience with herniated discs.
- If you slip into depression and/or anxiety don’t be afraid to use the medications the doctors prescribe for that as well – and REMEMBER that you are going to be fine again. The depression and anxiety will naturally fade away when the pain fades away. Count on it.
- Try to keep yourself entertained if you can. Watch your favorite shows and read if you can. When you are in the early extreme pain stage you may not want any of that, but whenever you can try to get your mind off your pain and situation do it.
- Talk your loved ones’ ears off. Don’t be afraid to keep asking them to lay by your side and talk to you. You might not want any physical contact, but just having someone to talk to can help a lot – it reminds you that you’re not alone. If you live alone use Social media or the phone to keep in touch friends and/or family. That includes you too guys! When you are communicating with people it’s a very real validation that you’re not alone.
- After a time you will know when you can actually move enough to slowly and carefully walk. If it’s warm enough outside to go for a walk do it – a lot! The more you walk the faster you are going to heal. If you can’t go outside, live in a high-rise, or don’t want others to see you in that way, walk around your home. Keep pacing the halls and rooms. Try listening to music or have the TV on while you do it – just to alleviate the boredom.
So remember that you are not alone. You are one human of billions (over the centuries) who has suffered through (note the word “through” – it’s going to pass) a herniated disc.
It’s no fun and it will be really painful for 2-3 weeks, then quite painful to move for a few more, and then it will start to subside.
There is a possibility that your doctor will want you to consider an operation to fuse a disc, but that’s not usually the case. Either way…just know that “this too shall pass”.
I wish someone had told me all this when I was going through it.
You. Are. Going. To. Be. OK.
Once you have recovered from the worst of it and you’re slowly walking and moving again, you can start introducing the exercises shown below.