Can a Herniated Disc Massage Reduce Numbness and Pain?



I’ve been having lower back pain for quite some time. When I finally got it looked at, the doctor said I have a herniated disc in the lumbar region of my spine. I’ve been taking medication and doing some physical therapy, but nothing really seems to relieve my pain. I don’t want to move to narcotic pain meds because I’m worried about addiction. Could a massage reduce the numbness and pain from a herniated disc?


Herniated discs are a relatively common injury that can occur anywhere in the spinal column.[1]Massage can be beneficial in treating the symptoms of a herniated disc, such as decreasing pain and muscle spasms.[2] Your body is typically able to deal with a herniated disc on its own within six weeks or so.[3] In the meantime, massage is a relatively safe alternative to traditional treatment of a herniated disc, and may be able to help you avoid addictive or habit-forming pain medications.

Massage helps disc herniation by reducing tension in the muscles around the spine. By relieving muscle tension, pressure on the disc is reduced, which eases disc compression.[4] Regular massage treatment may even help prevent future disc degeneration.[5] In the short-term, you’ll get relief from the numbness and pain of your herniated disc. Don’t expect to be pain-free after one session, although it’s possible to get some immediate relief. Typically, several sessions are required before you start noticing a significant difference. Have patience, and continue to follow the treatment plan designed by your doctor.

Talk to your doctor before you start massage therapy to make sure you won’t aggravate your condition.[6] If you get the go-ahead from your doctor, go ahead and book your first session. You probably want to start with a Swedish massage, which is gentle and relaxing. Communicate clearly with your massage therapist about the location of your herniated disc. During the massage, if your therapist does anything that causes you pain, tell them immediately so they can adapt their technique to avoid aggravating the disc.[7] Follow up with regular sessions at least once a week for four to six weeks, or until your herniated disc has healed. Afterwards, you may want to continue monthly maintenance sessions to help prevent the problem from happening again.


[1] Sage Institute of Massage: “Bulging Discs and Herniated Discs: What You Need to Know as a Massage Therapist,”

[2] Id.

[3] Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care: “Slipped Disc: Non-Surgical Treatment Options,”

[4] Massage Today: “Understanding Lumbar Disc Herniation,”

[5] Sage Institute of Massage: “Bulging Discs and Herniated Discs: What You Need to Know as a Massage Therapist,”

[6] Massage Today: “Understanding Lumbar Disc Herniation,”

[7] Id.

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