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, you know how debilitating they can be and are no doubt eager for a solution that can return you to the activities and people you love.

For most, herniated disc symptoms can usually 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 — generally 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 — alternating temperature provides increased blood flow and reduced inflammation, respectively
  • 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

When physical therapy proves ineffective

If you have not received the desired quality of life from physical therapy or other prescribed conservative treatments after several weeks or months, surgery may be an option to consider.
It is still common practice for doctors to refer patients for traditional open back surgery to relieve herniated disc symptoms, but there are other options.

The skilled surgeons at Laser Spine Institute can perform minimally invasive spine surgery that reduces recovery time^ and eliminates the hospitalization associated with open neck or back surgeries. For herniated discs that require spinal fusion, we can offer minimally invasive stabilization techniques as a safer and effective alternative to traditional open fusion surgery.

Contact us to learn more and for a review of your MRI or CT scan.

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