A herniated disc happens when the gelatinous discs meant to cushion the vertebrae in the spin become displaced or broken. This can happen as a result of injury or with the slow passage of time. Regardless of how the defect occurs, physical therapy seems to be an extremely effective way to treat the painful condition.
Passive therapy involves things that the patient doesn’t really participate in. For example:
- Massage therapy can help relieve tension and stop muscle spasms in the affected area. A lot of herniated disc sufferers find relief from a good massage.
- Hot and cold therapy is another technique used by therapists to promote healing. Cold therapy helps reduce inflammation and swelling, reducing pressure on the affected area. Heat helps increase blood flow and rush nutrients and oxygen to the damaged area to promote healing. Alternating between the two may provide the best results. For those who want to continue heat therapy at home, The Healthy Back Institute sells an infrared heating pad. Its technology allows heat to penetrate deep into sore muscles to help relax pain away quickly.
- Traction and inversion therapy help to lessen the effects of gravity on affected bones. Inversion therapy involves turning the patient completely upside down, to allow gravity to naturally relieve pressure and help naturally realign the spine. The Healthy Back Institute also offers inversion tables for those who want to practice inversion therapy in the comfort of their own homes.
Active therapy involves patient participation. It’s often something the patient can continue at home to help strengthen muscles and prevent a future injury. These can include:
- Core stability, which is vital to having a healthy back. If you aren’t able to hold yourself upright because of a weak abdominal and back area you’re much more susceptible to injury and herniated discs. Exercises like sit ups, crunches and leg lifts will help increase the strength of your core, and help you maintain better posture.
- Flexibility is another key to helping your back heal, and maintaining back health. Your therapist may teach you a number of exercises like this:
- Sit in a chair upright. Bend forward and reach for your toes. It’s important to never over extend. If the movement becomes painful, pull back. Hold a comfortable stretching position for several seconds. Repeat the movement at least once.
- Lie on the ground with one leg bent, your knee pointing towards the ceiling. Rotate your hips so the side of your knee touches the ground, extending your leg over the straight one. This should create something that looks like the shape of a 4 with your legs. If it becomes painful, lift your knee off the ground until it’s a mild stretch. Hold the position for about 10 seconds, release then repeat on the other side.
Maintaining muscle strength and flexibility after your therapy is over will help reduce the risk of repeat injuries and help you stay pain free much longer. Herniated disc physical therapy won’t be as effective if you don’t continue the exercises and techniques you learned long after therapy is over.
The Healthy Back Institute has many e-books, DVDs and products to help you keep your get your back in shape and keep it there. Visit losethebackpain.com to browse their selection and start on your way to being pain free today!
Written By: Updated: June 28,2011