Lumbar Disc Herniation
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Lumbar disc herniation occurs when a lumbar disc bulges out. Lumbar discs are spongy cushions between the vertebrae (bones) in your lower back. The herniated disc may press on your nerves or spinal cord. A herniated lumbar disc may be painful and decrease your movement.
You may need any of the following:
- NSAIDs decrease swelling and pain. This medicine is available without a doctor's order. Ask your primary healthcare provider (PHP) which medicine is right for you, and how much to take. Follow directions. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems if not taken correctly. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your PHP if NSAIDs are safe for you.
- Muscle relaxers and steroids decrease pain and muscle spasms. Steroids decrease inflammation.
- Prescription pain medicine may be given. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take this medicine.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your PHP if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your PHP as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Your PHP may have you rest in bed for a few days. It is best to rest on your side with your knees bent. Put a cushion between your knees to help decrease the pressure on your spine and nerves. Ask how long you should rest and when you can return to your daily activities.
Heat helps decrease pain and muscle spasms. Apply heat on the area for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours for as many days as directed.
A physical therapist teaches you exercises to make your back muscles stronger and decrease your pain. A physical therapist can teach you safe ways to bend, lift, sit and stand to decrease your risk for low back pain.
Exercise and activity:
Exercises that do not stress your back muscles may help decrease your pain. Examples of low-stress exercises are walking, swimming, and biking. Do not lift anything heavy while your back is healing. Try not to sit for long periods of time. Talk to your PHP before you start any new exercise program.
Contact your PHP if:
- You have numbness in one or both of your legs.
- You have low back pain while resting.
- You have trouble moving one or both of your legs.
- You begin leaking urine or bowel movement, and it is not normal for you.
- Your pain gets worse, even after you take medicine.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Return to the emergency department or call 911 if:
- You cannot control when you urinate or have a bowel movement.
- You are unable to move one or both of your legs.
- You lose feeling in your groin or buttocks.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.