A bulging disc in the spinal column is usually treated with medications and physical therapy before more invasive medical procedures, such as epidural steroid injections or spinal surgery, are considered. If your bulging disc is causing pain, there’s a good chance that a physical therapy plan can be designed to diminish 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:
- Calming your bulging disc pain and inflammation
- Strengthening muscles in the back and abdomen to improve spinal support, flexibility and movement
- Attempting to temporarily push a bulging disc back into its normal place in the spinal canal
- Improving the flow of blood, nutrients and oxygen to the spine
If you are a candidate for physical therapy, your physician 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 could be most beneficial to you. The therapist will examine your posture and ask about your standing and sitting positions at work and 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 could include:
- Joint mobilization by applying varying degrees of pressure to joints
- Traction or gently “pulling” on the joints and muscles with a traction machine
- 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 to treat pinched nerves and muscle spasms
- 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
- 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
- Soft tissue massage
Generally, patients with bulging disc symptoms have physical therapy appointments 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 the minimally invasive procedures performed at Laser Spine Institute. Contact us today and we will gladly evaluate your MRI or CT scan for free.