Can I go to the sauna with a slipped disc?

A sore back, limited mobility and the constant awareness that every step could be uncomfortable – a herniated disc is truly no light burden. If you too are struggling through everyday life and looking for small relief, this article could be a ray of hope for you.
Safe in the sauna with a herniated disc - your comprehensive guide
© woodoo007/

Safe in the sauna with a herniated disc – your comprehensive guide

  • Your health comes first: If you have a slipped disc and are toying with the idea of going to the sauna, proceed with caution. Even though sauna sessions can be relaxing, make sure they don’t put extra strain on your back.
  • Consult a professional: Before making a decision, talk to your doctor or a spine specialist. Discuss your symptoms and overall health to make sure a sauna visit is tolerable for you.
  • Consider alternative relaxation methods: if sauna visits are not recommended, there are other ways to relax and relieve pain. These include warm baths, light exercise or physical therapy specifically tailored to your condition.

Understanding a herniated disc and its symptoms

Intervertebral discs are heavy workers in our bodies: they support the spine and cushion impacts. So it’s no wonder that these little helpers sometimes run out of steam over the years. The result: terrible pain! But that’s no reason to panic, after all, there’s a lot you can do to cure your intervertebral discs – and all without surgery. What happens during a herniated disc? The intervertebral disc is composed of a fibrous ring and a gelatinous core. If cracks develop in the fibrous core, the gelatinous core emerges and presses on the nerves: this hurts.

These treatments are recommended by doctors for a herniated disc:

  • Heat and cold treatments
  • Information
  • Exercise
  • Pain therapy

Complementary to other treatments, heat and cold treatments bring significant relief from pain. A visit to the sauna is ideal for this purpose.

What the doctor says: Heat treatments for back pain

Why is heat good for the back and relieves nasty pain? Heat relaxes, loosens and decramps. That’s why regular sauna sessions can be recommended for a slipped disc. If you also suffer from a thyroid disease or have cardiovascular problems, talk to your doctor as a precaution.

This is how sauna heat affects your body:

  • Muscle relaxation
  • Metabolism is stimulated
  • Supply of intervertebral discs, muscles, and tendons with oxygen and nutrients is improved
  • Slag in the tissue is removed
  • Immune defense is increased

Hyperthermia of the body during a sauna session promotes vasodilatation, which improves blood flow to muscles and connective tissue and optimizes metabolic exchange. This process supports the regeneration of damaged disc structures and promotes the resorption of inflammatory mediators, resulting in pain relief.

Why sauna heat relieves pain?

The heat in the sauna relieves tension and relaxes. Treatment of back pain with heat has been known for centuries. Here is how the heat works: Heat calms and relaxes the body, it increases metabolic processes, improves blood circulation and stimulates the immune system. In addition, heat relieves muscle tension, promotes the extensibility of ligaments and tendons, and relieves pain. Hooray! The intervertebral discs breathe an audible sigh of relief. The fibrous rings are better supplied with blood, oxygen and nutrients. Small cracks heal and everything gets back into place.

Sauna – health-promoting effect for slipped discs

The choice of the right type of sauna, adapted to the individual state of health and personal preferences, is of essential relevance. For example, the classic sauna is characterized by high temperatures and low humidity, which promotes sweating particularly effectively. In contrast, the steam bath, with its high humidity and moderate temperatures, will intensively humidify the respiratory tract, which is why it is especially recommended for people with respiratory diseases.

The different types of saunas each offer their own characteristics and health benefits. In the case of health problems, such as a herniated disc, the heat of the sauna can help loosen muscles and reduce pressure on the spine. This can not only relieve pain, but also help the affected areas heal and regenerate.

The decision to choose a type of sauna should always be made with your own health and preferences in mind. While the classic sauna with its high temperatures promotes an intense sweating reaction through the skin, the steam bath with its moist heat can be particularly beneficial for the respiratory tract. Biosaunas or Sanariums offer milder heat and are often suitable for people who are sensitive to intense heat, while the Tepidarium offers gentle heat that is relaxing and soothing without putting too much strain on the body.

Choose your favorite sauna according to your taste:

  • Classic sauna (Finnish sauna): 80-100 °C (176-212 °F)
  • Steam bath / Caldarium: 50-60 °C (122-140 °F)
  • Biosauna / Sanarium: 40-50 °C (104-122 °F)
  • Tepidarium / Warming room: 38-40 °C (100-104 °F)

However, in the case of acute inflammation or injury, as can occur with a herniated disc, the sauna is not recommended to avoid aggravating the symptoms. In any case, a doctor should be consulted before a sauna session to ensure that there are no health risks. Once the acute phase has subsided and the physician has given his or her approval, sauna can be a wonderful adjunct to rehabilitation and to promote general well-being.

Recommended sauna infusions for pain relief

The healing power of heat has been known for centuries and is often used to relieve various ailments. Particularly in the case of back pain, as can occur with a herniated disc, those affected look for gentle methods of pain relief. Sauna infusions offer not only soothing warmth here, but also aromatic scents that can relax the body and mind. Some special infusions such as “hay flower”, “green apple” and “Japanese medicinal plant oil” are known not only for their pleasant aromas but also for their health benefits.

Sauna infusion; “hay flower”

Florage 100ml Saunaaufguss HEUBLUME - 50 Jahre Erfahrung als...

Green apple sauna infusion

Grüner Apfel-Saunaaufguss/Duftöl Konzentrat (1x100ml)

Sauna infusion: Japanese medicinal plant oil

Saunaduftkonzentrat Japanisches Heilpflanzenöl 200 ml von...

Further sources: Sauna as therapy for various diseases


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