A bulging disc in the spinal column is often treated with physical therapy before more invasive medical measures, such as epidural steroid injections or surgery, are considered. If your bulging disc is causing pain, a physical therapy plan can be designed to reduce or even eliminate your pain and discomfort.
Physical therapy includes a combination of pain control techniques, therapeutic exercises, massage therapy, and functional training practices aimed at:
- Attempting to push a bulging disc back into its normal place in the spinal canal
- Improving the flow of blood, nutrients, and oxygen to the bulging disc
- Strengthening muscles in the back and abdomen to improve flexibility and movement
- Calming your bulging disc pain and inflammation
If you are a candidate for physical therapy, your doctor will likely recommend a licensed physical therapist.
After obtaining information about your symptoms, a physical therapist will perform some tests to determine what type of physical therapy plan will be most beneficial to you. The therapist will examine your posture and ask about your standing and sitting positions at work and/or at home. Your therapist also will conduct nerve tests by manually moving your body in different directions. He or she also will palpate, or feel, the soft tissues around your spine for abnormal texture, temperature, and tenderness as a way to detect inflammation, irritation, and muscle spasms.
Once a physical therapist has evaluated your condition, he or she can create a physical therapy plan specifically targeted at alleviating your bulging disc symptoms. Your bulging disc physical therapy plan may include:
- Rest and avoidance of activities, such as lifting or jogging, that may exacerbate your condition
- Finding the most beneficial positions for you to sit, stand, work, and sleep
- Using an ultrasound device to send high-frequency sound waves to the affected area in an attempt to increase the flow of blood, nutrients, and oxygen to the disc area
- Electrical stimulation for pinched nerves and muscle spasms
- Soft tissue massage
- Joint mobilization by applying varying degrees of pressure to joints
- Traction or gently “pulling” on the joints and muscles with a traction machine
- Stretching and other bulging disc exercises aimed at increasing flexibility and strength
- Improving body mechanics for various activities, such as taking out the trash, or washing dishes
Typically, patients with bulging disc symptoms have physical therapy two to three times a week over a six-week period. If physical therapy does not provide you with bulging disc relief, you may want to consider one of minimally invasive procedures performed at Laser Spine Institute (LSI). Contact us today and we will gladly evaluate your MRI or CT scan for free.