Back Ache? How to Determine Whether You Have a Herniated Disc
Are you experiencing strange neck, back, or extremity pains? This can indicate a variety of problems, including one or more herniated discs.
But how can you tell if you have this particular problem? And what can you do if you do have a herniated disc? These questions don’t have to add to your confusion and frustration.
Our physiotherapists can help you determine whether you have a herniated disc and more importantly– help you find relief. To learn more about this condition and its symptoms, keep reading and contact Paul Weiner Physical Therapy Clinic.
What exactly is a herniated disc?
“Herniated disc,” “slipped disc,” and “ruptured disc” are all just different ways of describing the same physical problem. Your spinal discs are squat discs of tissue that lie between the vertebrae.
A disc consists of a fluid-filled center called the nucleus pulposus encased in an outer structure called the annulus fibrosus. This arrangement makes the disc both tough enough and spongy enough to absorb shocks.
Unfortunately, that toughness has its limits. Sometimes a disc will lose hydration over time, causing the nucleus pulposus to shrink. The disc loses its height, which stresses the spinal joints and may cause the disc to bulge outward.
Eventually these changes can cause part of the annulus fibrosus to balloon and tear open; this is a herniated disc. Herniated discs can also occur suddenly due to an auto accident, workplace accident, or sports injury that traumatizes the spine.
How do I know if I have a herniated disc?
Herniated discs don’t always cause symptoms, but the symptoms that they do cause can help you troubleshoot the nature of your problem. The most common symptoms include:
Symptoms that began after you gained a lot of weight (since obesity is a risk factor for disc problems)
Symptoms that started shortly after an accident, extreme twisting of the neck or back, or an attempt to lift a heavy object
An inability to walk more than a few steps without pain
Pain, tingling, or loss of sensation in a limb (the result of a herniated disc pressing against nerve roots)
Back pain that seems to grow worse when you sneeze, cough, stand up, or sit down
Neck pain (if it’s a cervical disc)
If your symptoms seem to be soothed by massage, heat, or cold, you’re more likely to have a strained muscle or tendon than a herniated disc.
Ultimately, the most accurate way to confirm a herniated disc is through medical imaging. X-rays can reveal not only the abnormal shape of a herniated disc, but also whether the herniation is pinching a nerve
Herniated discs and PT
A herniated disc can be extremely painful, but don’t panic. The majority of herniated discs can be successfully treated without surgery. Physiotherapy can assist you in reducing or eliminating your symptoms.
Our physiotherapist can advise you on specific exercises to strengthen your back and neck. These exercises can help to compensate for any atrophy or weakness caused by your herniated disc. They can also strengthen your neck and back, providing extra support and making these structures less vulnerable to future herniation.
We may also suggest non-invasive techniques to supplement your physiotherapy exercises and aid in your healing.
How can physiotherapy help?
Herniated discs can be successfully treated with physiotherapy. At your initial appointment, one of our physiotherapists will perform diagnostic tests to determine the root of your pain and verify that your pain is indeed being caused by a herniated disc.
Once the cause of your pain is clear, an individualized treatment plan will be created for you, based on your specific needs. This typically includes a series of stretches and exercises aimed at relieving your pain, improving your function, and promoting the natural healing process of your body. Additional treatments may be added as your physiotherapist deems fit. These include:
Your physiotherapist will also advise you on any lifestyle changes that may be recommended in order to prevent herniated discs from developing again in the future. Physiotherapy is one of the safest, quickest, and most effective ways to treat herniated discs. It is a holistic and non-invasive approach that, in many cases, has been able to eliminate the need for harmful drugs or surgical intervention.
Don’t let back pain slow you down any longer– contact us today!
Are you ready to finally determine what is causing your back pain? Are you anxiously waiting for a treatment plan that lessens your pain?