Relieving your herniated disc symptoms with physical therapy

Herniated disc symptoms include burning pain, numbness and muscle weakness that radiates out to different parts of the body depending on the location of the condition. If you are living with these painful symptoms, it is important to keep a positive attitude and understand that there are effective treatments that can return you to the activities and people you love.

In a large number of cases, herniated disc symptoms can be relieved with conservative nonsurgical treatments such as pain medication and lifestyle changes like diet and exercise. Physical therapy is another extremely common and effective nonsurgical recommendation. Your doctor can refer you to a physical therapist who can show you a variety of techniques to manage your pain.

Passive physical therapies

Physical therapy methods that do not require your direct participation are called passive therapies. Passive techniques include:

  • Massage — deep tissue massage is used to target specific problem muscle groups
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) — gently stimulates the muscles and can reduce muscle spasms
  • Hot/cold therapy —provides increased blood flow and reduced inflammation
  • Ultrasound — sends sound waves into the muscles to reduce swelling and relieve pain

Passive physical therapy is usually administered before you engage in active physical therapies to help warm up the muscles, ligaments and joints.

Active physical therapy

Physical therapy techniques that require patients to actively participate and perform specific movements are called active physical therapies. These can be combined to treat herniated disc symptoms. Some of the most common are:

  • Strength training — strengthening the right support muscles can reduce pressure on the spine, providing relief from nerve compression by a herniated disc
  • Stretching — guided stretching with your physical therapist relaxes muscles and can ease pain
  • Hydrotherapy — alternative physical therapy using various benefits of water to treat symptoms

If physical therapy is unable to relieve symptoms

If you have exhausted physical therapy or other prescribed conservative treatments after several weeks or months, your doctor may recommend you consult with a spine specialist to explore surgical options. If you have been advised to undergo to traditional open back surgery to relieve herniated disc symptoms, but have concerns about the risks and difficulties involved, there are other options.

The skilled surgeons at Laser Spine Institute can perform minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery that reduces recovery time^ associated with open neck or back surgeries. For herniated discs that require spinal fusion, we also provide minimally invasive stabilization techniques as an alternative to traditional open spine fusion surgery. Contact us to learn more.

Our dedicated team will be glad to review a copy of your MRI or CT scan* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our outpatient procedures.

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