Should I use physical therapy for annular tear treatment?

Physical therapy is one of the most commonly recommended forms of annular tear treatment. This conservative (nonsurgical) option can lead to significant benefits and can typically be combined with other conservative treatments, including pain medications and epidural steroid injections, for meaningful symptom relief.

Before beginning physical therapy

Physical therapy can be helpful for many individuals, although it’s important to discuss your condition with your physician (or physical therapist) prior to getting started. Factors to talk about include:

  • When your symptoms started
  • Which, if any, movements or exercises make your symptoms more pronounced
  • Whether periodic rest has helped improve your condition
  • Which other types of annular tear treatment, if any, you are currently using
  • What your current exercise program looks like

This can help your physician or physical therapist determine whether physical therapy is an ideal treatment option, and if so, how to tailor the program to your specific needs.

Making the most of physical therapy sessions

Physical therapy can involve many different exercises to stretch and strengthen your muscles, expand your range of motion and alleviate annular tear-related pain. Exercises, soft tissue mobilization, manual therapies and other modalities can all be customized to your specific needs. The exact plan that your physical therapist creates will depend on the type of symptoms you are experiencing, the precise location of your annular tear and your answers to the questions in the bulleted list above.

To gain the maximum benefits of physical therapy, most patients are advised to participate for at least six to eight weeks and carefully complete any at-home exercise instructions made by the physical therapist.

Even though many individuals who participate in physical therapy find that it helps improve their annular tear symptoms, there are some who do not acquire the results they need from nonsurgical treatments. If this is the case in your situation, Laser Spine Institute can help you determine where to go from here. We perform a number of minimally invasive outpatient procedures and have a patient satisfaction score of 96.^ We can help you determine if you are a candidate for minimally invasive surgery if physical therapy and other conservative treatments haven’t produced the desired results.