Recovery & Support for Herniated Disc

At NYU Langone, physicians and therapists who specialize in the spine can tailor a recovery plan to the treatment you received and your needs and goals. They work together to provide recovery and support services, including physical therapy, pain management, and mind–body care.  

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Physical Therapy After Surgery

Physical therapy is an important part of full recovery from any back surgery. At NYU Langone’s Rusk Rehabilitation, our therapists work closely with you to create a plan for returning to your usual activities and preventing further spine damage. They can also help you manage pain after surgery through gentle stretches and exercises. 

Many people can stand or walk on the same day of surgery, but everyone is different. In the hours after surgery, a rehabilitation doctor may visit you to discuss how you feel and how much physical activity you’re able to do. 

As you heal in the first few weeks after surgery, a physical therapist can help you increase mobility and teach you exercises for increasing strength in the abdomen, thighs, and buttocks. These core muscle groups support the spine and act as a built-in brace. The stronger they are, the less pressure is put on the vertebrae and joints affected by the herniated disc. 

At NYU Langone, physical therapy is a part of any long-term recovery plan for herniated disc surgery. In order to recover fully and obtain good results from your surgery, the exercises taught by a therapist should become a regular part of your exercise routine.

Nonsurgical Recovery

At NYU Langone, physical therapy is also prescribed for those who haven’t had surgery. Many people find that core strengthening can take pressure off the spine and that improved muscle strength and posture reduces painful contact between a herniated disc and nerve root. 

Physical therapy may be recommended in combination with anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxants, or pain medication, and it can enhance the pain-relieving effects of a steroid injection. After several weeks, physical therapy may provide long-term pain relief and improve flexibility and restore function without additional treatment.

Mind–Body Wellness

In addition to physical rehabilitation, NYU Langone offers a variety of services that can improve your sense of well-being and positively affect your overall health. Massage therapy, acupuncture, meditation, and other wellness services can enhance the effects of physical therapy and speed recovery time.

Research shows that certain lifestyle factors, such as maintaining a healthy weight or quitting or cutting down on smoking, can enhance recovery from surgery. Our doctors and therapists recognize that this can be difficult and offer support every step of the way. Learn more about our Weight Management Program and Tobacco Cessation Programs

A herniated disc does not have to be a lingering problem. At NYU Langone, our experts understand that back pain can overshadow the best parts of life and work with you to find the right treatment.

Our Research and Education in Herniated Disc

Learn more about our research and professional education opportunities.