Usually, before a patient has a surgical procedure to address a herniated lumbar disc they must undergo non-surgical treatment such as physical therapy. While there are many forms of non-surgical treatment for herniated disc this blog focuses on how physical therapy helps relieve the pain associated with lumbar disc herniation.
Treatment goals with Physical Therapy
There are three general goals that your physical therapist will address.
- Pain Relief — Pain is one of the main symptoms of a herniated disc. However, the severity of the injury causes a range of symptoms. These might include numbness, tingling, burning, and various levels of pain, especially leg pain or sciatica. The goal is to reduce or eliminate back pain.
- Improvement — The goal is that the patient improves enough that they can return to their normal activities, even if modified.
- Education — It is important that patients understand their treatment and the treatment goals. It is not enough to simply give patients a piece of paper with exercises on it and expect the positive results. The goal is to educate each patient on how to do their exercises and why it is important that they do their exercises.
At Orthopedic & Balance, we look for overly positive results. That process begins by thoroughly evaluating each patient. We are all individuals and the treatment for your back pain should match your injury and the challenges that you face. We also want you to participate as a member of your care team. That is why we take the time to educate our patients.
How Does PT Help Reduce or Remove Back Pain?
There are several goals that the physical therapist and the patient should focus on during physical therapy. Those include:
- Hands on style manual therapy along with specifically designed exercises which helps increase circulation and increases our body’s ability to heal.
- The strengthening of specific muscles in the back which help to support the spine.
- The exchange of knowledge so that patients understand why they need to exercise and how it benefits them. It is also important that each patient understands how to exercise. This knowledge helps increase healing, decrease pain, and increase balance and mobility.
Strengthening Back Muscles
When you strengthen your back muscles they do a better job of supporting your spine. How these bones move is dependent upon muscles, ligaments, and connecting tissues. By strengthening your back muscles, you help to provide better support for each vertebra and that takes pressure off of the disc and reduces pain.
Back pain due to disc herniation occurs when an injury causes the disc to rupture. As the disc bulges, it presses on nerves that extend from the spinal cord and through special canals in the vertebra.
The goal of strengthening back muscles is to use muscle bulk to hold the vertebra apart so that the pressure on the nerve decreases. When that happens, the pain that you feel is generally reduced or eliminated.
An Individual Approach to Back Pain Relief
What is important to understand is there is not a blanket set of exercises that works for everyone. In some cases, exercise will not help reduce your back pain. This is why at Orthopedic & Balance we treat you like the individual you are. And we believe strongly in delivering hands on manual style physical therapy. It is important that we both (you and us) understand your injury. It is also important that we teach you how exercise helps and how to do those exercises correctly.
Most physical therapy sessions last 4-6 weeks. That is a short period of time to build muscle strength. This also means that to gain the most benefit you will likely need to do these exercises at home too and you will need to do them correctly.
What Happens if Your Injury Requires Surgery?
Back surgery to relieve pain caused by lumbar disc herniation is fairly common. Your doctor and insurance company typically use physical therapy first to see if there is an improvement.
If you need surgery to repair or remove part of a lumbar disc then physical therapy following your surgery is common. The goals of physical therapy after surgery are different. Here we focus on education, building strength, and prevention.
After your surgery, we teach you how to bend and move so that you do not reinjure you back. We teach proper body mechanics as we help you build back strength, improve balance, and increase your range of motion.
We also develop exercises that are specific to your surgery and injury. We teach you how to do these exercises properly and we teach you why these exercises are important. By doing so we help increase your success as a patient and improve the quality of your life.
Once you recover from your surgery you have to learn how to use your body again. It is not that you cannot walk, but that you have spent time compensating for your injury. We teach you how to improve your posture, build strength in your legs and back and improve your balance. If you have had back pain for more than a year you usually need to find a new center of gravity and that means working on balance.
At Orthopedic & Balance, we understand back pain and pain caused by lumbar disc herniation. We work with patients pre-surgery and post surgery. We have special classes that teach you how to heal naturally and for many patients that might reduce the need for surgery. Whether you suffer from back pain or sciatica we can help.
Lower Back Pain and Sciatica Workshop
If you want more information and guidance on natural healing treatment, you may attend one of our upcoming Lower Back Pain and Sciatica Workshop near you.
During the workshop, we discuss the Top 3 Most Common Causes of Back Pain and Sciatica, and how you can naturally heal without medications, injections, or surgery.
To your healthy back,