Is Your Back Paining You? There is a Chance it Could be From a Herniated Disc

back pain herniated disc kaizen pt Feb20th 2020

Do you wince when you bend over to tie your shoes? Is your back stiff, sore, and achy, especially in the morning? Do you notice numbness, tingling, and pain in an arm or leg?

If you’re experiencing these issues, it’s possible you have a herniated disc. We encourage you to call our physical therapy office to see how an experienced physical therapist can provide non-invasive, drug-free relief and help you avoid recurring pain.

How will physical therapy improve my herniated disc?

Research shows that except in extreme cases, conservative treatment like physical therapy is more effective at treating a herniated disc than surgery and pain medications.3 At our clinic, our physical therapist can help you find relief by:

  • Diagnosing your condition: we use physical examination tests and personal/medical history to diagnose a herniated disc and rule out other conditions
  • Treating your condition: initial treatment goals focus on relieving pain and inflammation, healing the injured disc, alleviating compressed nerves, and restoring normal mobility in your spine. This is possible through a variety of physical therapy techniques including joint mobilizations, stretches and massage, therapeutic exercises, and modalities like cold laser therapy and electrical stimulation. 
  • Preventing recurring problems: we’ll teach you how to improve your posture and body mechanics, improve the strength and conditioning of your core, and enhance spinal health through healthy lifestyle modifications (e.g., smoking cessation, increasing physical activity, improved nutrition, etc.). 

How do I know if I have a herniated disc?

Herniated discs can occur anywhere in the spine, but they’re the most common in the neck (cervical spine) and lower back (lumbar spine).3 The leading causes and risk factors include3:

  • Advancing age, especially ages 30-50 (discs tend to lose fluid and elasticity as we get older, and become more susceptible to damage) 
  • Trauma, such as a car accident or slip and fall
  • Male gender (men are two times as likely to be diagnosed with a herniated disc than women)
  • Poor posture 
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Repetitive heavy lifting, bending, and/or twisting
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Family history

Sometimes herniated discs present with no symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they can range from mild to severe and vary depending on where the herniated disc occurs. Signs and symptoms often include:

  • Pain that worsens or moves further down an arm or leg (peripheralizes) when a person bends forward, coughs, sneezes, or sits for a long time
  • Pain that improves or moves up an arm or leg (centralizes) when a person extends their spine, lies on their stomach, or leans to one side
  • Pain, numbness, tingling, weakness, and/or abnormal reflexes in an arm or leg 
  • Pain that worsens in the morning
  • Clumsiness, limping, or tripping due to a weakened hand or foot
  • Stiffness and reduced mobility in the spine

So, what exactly is it?

Between the 33 vertebral bones in your spine are small cushion-like structures called spinal discs. These discs improve mobility and shock absorption in the spinal column.1 

Sometimes, the outer layer of a spinal disc, called the annulus fibrosis, tears. If this happens, the disc’s inner gel-like core, called the nucleus pulposus, can leak through this ruptured tissue. The now “herniated” disc can alter the adjacent joint mechanics and compress and irritate nearby spinal nerve roots.2

Herniated discs are often incorrectly called “slipped discs.” As you can see, a disc doesn’t “slip” so much as it ruptures and encroaches onto surrounding tissues. 

A related disc condition is called a bulging disc. In this case, the outer layer of a disc remains intact, but the inner gel-core still protrudes and presses out abnormally.

Find relief today:

Our overall mission is two-fold: to help you feel better and address the root cause of your disc herniation so you can avoid chronic pain and dysfunction!

Could your symptoms be caused by a herniated disc? Find out and get help with our physical therapy team by giving us a call and arranging an appointment today.

Sources:

  • 1. Herniated disk. (2018, March 06). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/herniated-disk/symptoms-causes/syc-20354095
  • 2. Herniated nucleus pulposus: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia Image. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/imagepages/9700.htm
  • 3. Bise, C. (2016, December 01). Herniated Disk. Retrieved July 9, 2019, from https://www.moveforwardpt.com/symptomsconditionsdetail.aspx?cid=79ef56df-780e-4ad0-963f-94364404125a

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