A spinal disc herniation is a fairly common diagnosis that happens when a ruptured area of the outer disc layer allows the gel-like nucleus pulposus to protrude through (called the annulus).
This problem most frequently manifests in the lower lumbar spine, although it can occur in any of the three spinal regions (cervical, thoracic, or lumbar).
However, physical therapists in Austin now can treat the symptoms of these problematic herniated discs. In this blog, we will discuss how physical therapy helps treat herniated discs.
What can cause herniated discs?
Everybody has a rubbery disc with a liquid nucleus between each vertebra that serves as a shock absorber and spinal cord protector. The disc herniates when the nucleus is forced through the flexible ring of fibers on the exterior.
When you compress a stress ball with a net around it, the squishy part of the ball can partially protrude through the net. That is what a herniated disc is like.
Herniated discs are most commonly found in the neck (cervical spine), lower back (lumbar spine), and, infrequently, mid-back (thoracic spine). It is typically caused by excessive stress on the spine, which means you are overtaxing your spine’s capacity.
Lifting and rotating with too much weight or using your back instead of your legs can put too much pressure on your discs. Additionally, your discs may shrink as you age and become more susceptible to harm in general rather than just herniation.
How do herniated discs affect nerves and pain?
Herniated discs frequently exert pressure on the nerves, leaving your spine in its exact location. This indicates that the side of your body where the bulging disc is may have altered sensation and pain.
You might feel this in your arm if it happens in your neck. You can get symptoms in your lower extremities if the herniation occurs in your lower back. Muscle weakness and balance problems may also be present if you have numbness or tingling in some places.
Most herniated discs are not considered medical emergencies, and some can heal independently without needing surgery.
However, you might require emergency medical care if your symptoms increase suddenly, if you encounter bladder or bowel problems, or if you notice a change in sensation at the saddle region between your thighs/groin.
How can physical therapy help?
When you visit a physical therapist for a mild or moderate herniated disc, they’ll start by attempting to make you feel better. To reduce as much pressure on the nerve as possible, they may employ manual treatment, cold or heat applications, and assistance in finding comfortable positions.
Then, you might advance to low-intensity training, focusing on gradual muscle activation and strengthening your core so that your core muscles can support your back more effectively.
As you proceed, a physical therapist in Austin will work with you to improve your body mechanics so that your pelvis is supported and your lower back is strengthened to avoid further herniation.
Physical therapy is a fantastic non-surgical treatment option, but before you begin, discuss your symptoms with your doctor so you can rule out any other possible causes and receive the best care.