Do You Know How to Identify a Herniated Disc? If you’ve been experiencing back pain, it just may be a herniated disc. A herniated disc can put extra pressure on the muscles and nerves around the spinal column. Strange neck pains, back pains, or extremity symptoms can indicate a variety of potential problems – including one or more herniated discs. How can you tell for sure whether you have this specific problem? Symptoms may include pain on one side of the body, pain that radiates to the arms or legs, aching, burning sensations in the affected area, and pain with certain movements. Fortunately, physical therapy can help relieve your herniated disc symptoms and help you move comfortably once again. How will physical therapy help my herniated disc? Physical therapy plays a critical role in recovering from a herniated disc. A physical therapist implements different techniques for pain relief and healing. Passive treatments like deep tissue massage, electric stimulation and hot and cold therapy are a few examples of passive treatments. Deep tissue massage uses pressure to relieve spasms and deep muscle tension due to a herniated disc. Hot therapy increases blood flow to the affected area and enhances healing. Cold therapy reduces inflammation. Electric nerve stimulation reduces muscle spasm by sending a tiny electric current to the nerve pathway. Active treatments by a physical therapist address joint movement, stability, flexibility, strength and posture. A physical therapist will teach you core stabilizing exercises to strengthen the back muscles. You’ll also engage in body muscle exercises to strengthen and condition your body. In addition, a physical therapist will teach you flexibility techniques and proper stretching techniques. Herniated discs, explained “Studies have indicated that genetic factors influence many, if not most of the diseases commonly encountered in clinical practice by physical therapists, such as herniated disc. Genetics has been shown to play a role in end-plate herniations at 40-49 years of age.” The spinal column consists of a series of bones. “The cervical spine has seven bones, the lumbar spine has five bones and the thoracic spine has 12.” Each disc has a gelatinous inner section and a tough outer ring. When the disc protrudes through the outer ring, it is known as a herniated disc. This can cause numbness, pain, and discomfort. There are a number of factors that can cause a herniated disc. Certain motions like turning or twisting can cause a herniated disc. Lifting heavy objects is another culprit. Being overweight can cause a herniated disc, too. This is because the discs have to support more weight. Older people are at risk for a herniated disc. As we age, the discs begin to lose some of their protective water content. This causes the disc to slip more easily out of place. Common treatments for herniated discs Herniated discs can be successfully treated with physical therapy. At your initial appointment, one of our physical therapists will perform diagnostic tests to determine the root of your pain and verify that your pain is indeed being caused by a herniated disc. Once the cause of your pain is clear, an individualized treatment plan will be created for you, based on your specific needs. This typically includes a series of stretches and exercises aimed at relieving your pain, improving your function, and promoting the natural healing process of your body. Additional treatments may be added as your physical therapist deems fit. These include: Manual therapy Ice and heat therapies Traction Class IV laser therapy Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) Education on posture and lifting mechanics Your physical therapist will also advise you on any lifestyle changes that may be recommended in order to prevent herniated discs from developing again in the future. Physical therapy is one of the safest, quickest, and most effective ways to treat herniated discs. It is a holistic and non-invasive approach that, in many cases, has been able to eliminate the need for harmful drugs or surgical intervention. Find relief today If you have back pain, turn to physical therapy for help. A physical therapist will do a comprehensive exam and review your medical history to determine if you have a herniated disc. Once a proper diagnosis is made, a physical therapist will then create and implement a personalized treatment plan targeted to the affected area. The goal of physical therapy is to help you attain an active and pain-free life. It’s helped thousands of others and can help you, too. Get on the road to recovery from a herniated disc with physical therapy.