Fluid Health & Fitness

Can physical therapy help a herniated disc?

A spinal disc herniation (also known as the nucleus pulposus or the inner disc) is a common diagnosis. It occurs when the inner gel-like portion of a disc protrudes through the outer layer of the disc (called annulus).

It can happen in any one of three spinal sections (cervical or thoracic), but it is more common in the lower lumbar. A herniation can make your daily life more difficult or painful, as discs are designed to absorb the stress placed on the spine.

Physical therapy might be able to treat the symptoms of this often difficult diagnosis. To learn more about our physical therapy clinic, click here.

We will explain how to be evaluated for a herniated disk, ongoing and initial physical therapy, exercises and prevention.

What physical therapy is good for a herniated disc?

This is a difficult question to answer as different people may have different symptoms from a herniated disk. Overloading the spine can often lead to herniated discs. A herniated disk can often be accompanied by disc degeneration and other issues in the spinal joints.

Back extension exercises, which are customized to each patient’s needs, have been proven to be a solid foundation for a herniated disk program. Good physical therapy will address any problems in adjacent areas, which can contribute to disc herniation.

There is evidence to support the use of manual therapy techniques for patients with herniated disks. This includes mobilization of the hip, lumbar, and thoracic spines, as well as nerve glides to lower extremities, soft tissue mobilization and trigger point dry needling.

There is also evidence to support the use of therapeutic exercises to increase muscular strength, flexibility endurance, pain relief, and disability. These include core stability, trunk coordination, core stability and resistive exercise. They also include strength training, endurance training, cardiovascular training, and strength training. All of these are progressive in nature. The goal of the initial exercises is to make it easier for you to move into more comfortable movements. As inflammation decreases and symptoms improve, you should move into more difficult movements as part of your treatment.

Can you fix a herniated disc with physical therapy?

A herniated disc can be helped by physical therapy. This is a great way to reduce pain, disability, mobility problems, and improve the healing process. Although herniated discs may not shrink in all cases, physical therapy can reduce the severity of the injuries.

It is more difficult to call the “fix” a problem. A herniated disk is a final resultant injury. It is often caused by repeated stress and injuries in the annular layers. This causes the inner disc to burst beyond the outer layer. A herniated disc can be treated with physical therapy to reduce inflammation and dysfunction. Once the inflammation has been reduced, healing can occur. The disc will heal once the inflammation has been removed. The pain will then disappear. Although there will be some physiological changes to the disc, the pain and inflammation will disappear. If disc injuries have advanced too far and physical therapy is not effective, Regenerative Medicine or surgery are options.

How long does a disc herniation take to heal?

The majority of intervertebral discs are made up of water, Type I and Type II collagen. Due to Type I and II collagen’s healing times, it may take between 6-8 weeks for herniated discs to heal. Healing times can be reduced by creating a healing environment for the injured tissue. The healing time will decrease if the damaged tissue is treated early. However, if the disc is not protected, it will take longer. Physical therapy will have an impact on healing times. It will be determined by how well it treats the affected areas. You might need to examine adjacent spinal segments, as well as adjacent joints, such the hips, knees, ankles, and feet. Your symptoms should improve within 4 to 6 physical therapy visits depending on how severe they are.

The time taken to heal a disc herniation will depend on how severe the herniation is. It also depends on what structures are affected by the herniation (e.g. Compression of a nerve root, or “radiculopathy”), can lead to disc herniation. Patients who have symptomatic disc herniation can experience a decrease in symptoms, but no improvement in size or improvement in their symptoms. However, symptoms will improve as the acute inflammation resolves. Herniated discs usually heal within a few weeks or sometimes a few months, depending on how the body heals itself.

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