Dr. Roche says, “Physical therapy in combination with oral steroids and activity modification for two weeks; no heavy lifting; no running or strenuous activity. Allow the inflammation to subside. Narcotics play a small role in pain control for people with herniated discs. I don't offer them. The best drugs are steroid medications, (methylprednisolone) oral steroids, prednisone, cortisone.”
The best two exercises that Dr. Roche recommends for herniated disc patients are walking and swimming.
Does pain during physical therapy for lumbar herniated disc mean the patient is damaging it?
“Not necessarily ... no,” says Dr. Roche. Physical therapy is intimidating to some people because they fear it will further damage their herniated disc.
“Sitting makes the situation worse. That's why walking is one of the best exercises you can do when you have lower back pain.... swimming, or laying down. Sitting is bad.”
Be sure that when you lie down (other than to go to sleep at night), this doesn’t become prolonged bed rest, but rather, a brief respite from being up and about to give the back some rest—perhaps about 20 minutes. Use a timer to make sure that you don’t overdo this.