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Herniated Discs Physiotherapy: Symptoms & Treatment

A herniated disc, also known as a slipped or ruptured disc, can cause pain, numbness, and weakness in the affected area. Physiotherapy can be an effective treatment option, as it focuses on strengthening the surrounding muscles, improving posture, and reducing inflammation.

As with all injuries, this information is simply a guide, and it is always best to check in with a Physiotherapist or Athletic Therapist to have a personalized assessment and hear recommendations for what you and your body may specifically need.

Herniated discs affect millions worldwide and can be extremely painful and debilitating. Physiotherapy is often an effective treatment for herniated discs, helping to reduce pain and improve mobility. 

The spine is made up of a series of vertebrae that are separated by intervertebral discs. These discs act as shock absorbers between the vertebrae, allowing them to move freely while providing cushioning. When these intervertebral discs become damaged or worn, they can bulge or rupture (herniate), resulting in reduced mobility and intense pain.

Physiotherapy is a safe and effective treatment option for herniated discs, helping to reduce pain and improve mobility. It involves stretching, strengthening exercises, manual therapy techniques, and other modalities such as ultrasound or electrical stimulation. Patients can experience long-term relief from their symptoms through this treatment approach while improving overall function and quality of life.

Definition Of A Herniated Disc

A herniated disc can be an excruciatingly painful and debilitating injury. It occurs when a disc in the spine is injured, resulting in its contents – namely, a jelly-like substance called nucleus pulposus – protruding from its normal position within the annulus fibrosus. This condition is also known as a slipped, ruptured, or prolapsed disc, as well as a bulging disc.

The nucleus pulposus can pressure nearby nerves and cause pain localized to one particular body area or radiate outward to other areas. In addition to pain, individuals may experience numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, and difficulty walking or standing up straight. Treatment for herniated discs typically involves physiotherapy and other conservative measures such as rest and medications. Surgical treatment may be necessary if conservative measures fail to provide relief.

Symptoms And Diagnosis

The symptoms of a herniated disc vary greatly according to the severity and location. Commonly reported symptoms to include localized pain or referred pain, tingling, numbness, and muscle weakness in the affected area. Diagnosing a herniated disc requires a combination of physical examination and imaging tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT). Depending on the patient's history and presentation, the physician may order additional tests like electromyography or nerve conduction studies to help identify the cause of the herniated disc. In some cases, further treatment, such as epidural steroid injections, may be recommended if conservative treatments prove ineffective over some time. The ultimate goal of physiotherapeutic intervention is to reduce pain and improve functional movement while addressing underlying causes, such as postural abnormalities or muscular imbalances, that may have contributed to the herniation. Appropriate exercises should be prescribed to promote flexibility and strength while minimizing the risk of further injury.

Non-Invasive Treatment Options

After herniated discs are diagnosed, non-invasive treatment options are typically the first line of defense. These treatments include alternative remedies such as physiotherapy, chiropractic care, and spinal decompression. Here we will explore how physiotherapy can help in the treatment of herniated discs:

  • Physiotherapy focuses on strengthening core muscles and improving posture through exercise and stretching to reduce pain associated with herniated discs.
  • Spinal decompression is a non-surgical procedure used to alleviate pressure on the disc by applying an external force to the spine, creating negative pressure within the disc.
  • Chiropractic care involves manual manipulation of the spine to reduce muscle tension and improve mobility to relieve pain.

These non-invasive treatments can effectively reduce pain associated with herniated discs and prevent further injury due to incorrect posture or movement. Treatment plans should be tailored for each patient based on their specific condition and goals for recovery. Patients must consult with their healthcare provider so they can receive an individualized plan that includes all necessary information about lifestyle changes, nutrition, exercise, etc., that are necessary for a successful recovery from herniated discs.


Physiotherapy For Herniated Discs

Physiotherapy is an effective treatment for herniated discs. It focuses on managing pain and improving the affected area's strength, flexibility, and mobility. Physiotherapists use various techniques to assess and treat a herniated disc, including manual therapy, therapeutic exercises, electrotherapy modalities, and patient education.

Manual therapy reduces pain and improves mobility by manipulating the spine in various directions. Therapeutic exercises are designed to strengthen core muscles, improve posture, improve range of motion and flexibility, and reduce muscle spasms. Electrotherapy modalities such as ultrasound or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) can be used to reduce inflammation and provide pain relief. Patient education includes guidance on proper ergonomics while performing daily activities, as well as advice on how to avoid re-injury.

Physiotherapy can help to reduce the symptoms associated with herniated discs by providing pain relief, restoring normal movement patterns, improving muscle strength, promoting healing, and preventing re-injury. With the right combination of treatments tailored to each individual's needs, physiotherapy can be an effective way to manage herniated disc symptoms and prevent long-term disability or chronic pain.

Can a physiotherapist help with a herniated disc?

Yes, a physiotherapist can help with a herniated disc. Physiotherapists can provide treatments such as manual therapy, exercise programs, and lifestyle modifications to help manage the pain associated with a herniated disc and to help promote healing.

Does a herniated disc ever fully heal?

A herniated disc can sometimes heal independently, but this is not always the case. Depending on the severity of the disc herniation and the underlying cause, treatment may be necessary to reduce pain and improve mobility. Treatments such as rest, pain medications, physical therapy, or even surgery may be needed.

What is the best therapy for a herniated disc?

The best therapy for a herniated disc depends on the severity of the condition and the individual case. Generally speaking, treatments may include physical therapy, massage, chiropractic care, exercise, lifestyle modifications, medications, or surgery. It is important to discuss treatment options with your doctor to determine the best approach for your individual case.

Contact Us For Help

Inertia Physio+ offers Kanata and Stittsville exceptional Physiotherapy, Athletic Therapy and Registered Massage Therapy with private treatment rooms, one on one care, a maximum of two patients per hour and treatment focused on the evidence-based practices of manual and exercise therapy. Don’t suffer any longer.  If you have pain or injury, our Kanata and Stittsville Physiotherapy, Athletic Therapy, and Registered Massage Therapy team is here to help you get back to living pain-free life and activities.  Please reach out to us at (613) 672-2200 or for an appointment today! You are also welcome to book online. We also offer direct billing on Physiotherapy and Massage Therapy services whenever your plan allows.


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