Physical Therapy Is Often the Best Choice To Treat Herniated Discs

Do you know what is the leading cause of job-related disabilities? You might be surprised to learn that it is back pain.  It is estimated that 60 to 80 percent of people will have back pain at some time in their lives. One of most common causes of lower back pain is a herniated disc.

A herniated or bulging disc occurs when the center gel-like portion of the disc begins to migrate or bulge, putting pressure on the ends of the discs.  If the disc migrates too far, this can place significant pressure on the outer rings and cause pain. If it continues to migrate farther, the nerve root can be compressed, leading to pain and potentially numbness and weakness down the leg. This condition is called sciatica. Herniated discs can result from trauma, such as a car accident, or lifting something extremely heavy, but most often this condition is caused by the following everyday activities, which put added pressure on the discs:

  • Repeated improper bending at the waist to pick up objects
  • Excessive sitting, especially with poor posture

There are many options to treat a herniated disc.  Epidural or steroid injections are sometimes used to reduce inflammation and ease the patient’s symptoms. In some cases, surgery is performed when pain, numbness and weakness becomes extremely severe.  Physical therapy is the most conservative approach to treatment, but is proven to be just as effective in most cases.

During an initial evaluation by a physical therapist, he or she will examine you and develop an individualized treatment plan to treat your herniated disc.  Physical therapy will usually involve the following:

  • Pain control modalities, such as moist heat, electrical stimulation/TENS and soft tissue mobilization
  • Education on posture, proper lifting techniques and what activities to avoid to allow the disc to heal
  • Exercises to perform the outpatient site and at home to try to reduce the herniation and alleviate its symptoms
  • Core strengthening and flexibility exercises to return you to your prior level of function and prevent this injury from returning

If you are suffering from back pain, Good Shepherd can help. The physicians at the Good Shepherd Spine & Joint Center can determine the cause of your pain, and the therapy staff at any of our more than 20 outpatient locations can help you overcome the pain and prevent it from returning. Contact us or call 1-888-44-REHAB (73422).

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