Your spine is made up of small connected bones, known as vertebrae. In the vertebrae are discs, which have a soft, gel-like center, that is meant to provide cushioning to the small bones that make up the vertebrae. A herniated disc occurs when the discs become broken or displaced. The cause of a herniated disc can occur as a result of wear and tear due to age or an injury to the spine.
A herniated disc may press on the nerves in your spine, causing numbness, pain or tingling in your leg known as sciatica. The good news is in most situations you can recover from the pain and discomfort associated with a herniated disc without having to go through surgery. In fact, the most common ways to treat a herniated disc is with a combination of chiropractic care and physical therapy. Here are some of the ways physical therapy is used to treat a herniated disc.
Passive Physical Therapy
Passive physical therapy consists of treatment methods that you do not have to physically participate in, such as the use of Kinesio tape, which is applied to the lumbar area of your back to help reduce pressure on the nerves and to increase the blood flow. Other methods of passive physical therapy used to treat a herniated disc may include:
- Massage therapy, which is often used to relieve tension and to prevent muscle spasms in the area of the herniated disc
- Cold and heat therapy is a physical therapy method that is used to promote healing. Heat therapy helps to improve blood flow and cold therapy helps to reduce swelling and inflammation, which reduces the pressure on the area affected by a herniated disc
- Electrotherapy and ultrasound therapy are often used together to reduce pain and increase blood flow. The heat produced through these types of therapy relaxes your muscles and allows the soft tissues to stretch
- Inversion therapy is used by physical therapists to reduce the effects of gravity on the affected vertebra.
- Low-level laser therapy helps to increase healing, especially in those with an acute lumbar disc herniation
- Whirlpool therapy is often used in physical therapy to relax your back muscles and relieve the pain associated with a herniated disc
Active Physical Therapy
Active physical therapy is therapy methods that involve your participation. Many of these methods are things you can do at home to help strengthen your muscles and prevent further injuries in your back. Some active physical therapy methods used for the treatment of a herniated disc may include:
- Core stability exercises, such as leg lifts, sit-ups and crunches, in order to help increase your core strength and maintain your posture to help reduce spinal pressure, which reduces pain in the area of the herniated disc
- Muscle strengthening methods are frequently used by physical therapists in order to provide a support system for your spine and to help you better the pain associated with the herniated disc
- Flexibility exercises are also frequently used by physical therapists to help your back heal and to relieve the pressure on the herniated disc
Combining chiropractic care and physical therapy will allow you to learn ways to strengthen and condition your back, which can help prevent future pain and reduce the risk of additional herniated discs occurring. The ultimate goal is to reduce the pressure by strengthening your back and spine; reducing the pressure on the nerves will help to prevent the pain associated with a herniated disc. Contact a company like Burgman Chiropractic Clinic PC to learn more about these treatment options.