The Importance of Seeing a Physical Therapist for Herniated Disc Pain
A herniated disc can occur at any point along your spine. Herniated discs are a common cause of back, arm, and/or leg pain in our physical therapy practice.
If you suspect that a herniated disc is causing your pain and dysfunction, please contact us right away to schedule a physical therapy appointment. Our skilled team can help you identify the source of your symptoms and heal the injured disc for long-term relief.
When you should see a physical therapist for herniated disc pain
Physical therapy has been shown in studies to be effective in the treatment of herniated discs. If your symptoms interfere with your daily life or work activities, or if they last longer than two weeks, we recommend that you seek physical therapy services.
Spinal traction, remedial exercises, and non-invasive modalities such as electrical stimulation or diathermy can help heal the injured disc, relieve pain, and help you avoid recurring issues.
If you have been told by a surgeon that you may need spinal surgery to correct the protrusion, physical therapy may be recommended. Many surgeons will advise their patients to work with a physical therapist prior to undergoing a spinal fusion or disc decompression procedure to improve core strength and spinal health. This can improve surgical outcomes while lowering the risk of postoperative complications.
Surprisingly, research shows that even “idiopathic” back pain (pain with no known cause) responds favorably to physical therapy. In other words, even if it’s unclear whether you have a herniated disc, our services can still be beneficial.
How to tell if your back pain is caused by a herniated disc
Spinal discs are small soft structures that exist between the vertebrae. Their primary functions are to absorb shock and maximize spine mobility. These discs are tough and fibrous on the outside, but soft and gel-like on the inside.
A herniated disc occurs when the disc’s tough outer layer (known as the annulus fibrosis) ruptures. This allows the inner gel substance (referred to as the nucleus pulposus) to escape. A ruptured disc can cause an inflammatory response and compress nearby structures such as joint receptors and spinal nerve roots.
Surprisingly, not all herniated discs cause discomfort (especially because the discs themselves are relatively low in innervation and vascularization). When a herniated disc does cause symptoms, they frequently include:
- Pain that improves or “centralizes” (moves toward the spine) when lying down or lying prone
- Pain that worsens with forward flexion or prolonged sitting—forward flexion can also cause pain to “peripheralize,” or move away from the spine.
- Pain in the arm or leg, numbness, tingling, and weakness (if the herniated disc compresses on an adjacent nerve root that innervates the affected limb)
- Neck or back pain, stiffness, and muscle spasms at the injured disc level
A herniated disc is similar to a bulging disc in that the disc tissue may protrude from its normal position but will not rupture.Read More
The Many Benefits of Stretching Both Before and After a Workout
Regular exercise is an excellent way to improve and maintain a healthy lifestyle. However, if you don’t stretch before and after your workout, you’re not getting the most out of your workout routine.
Stretching, according to the Mayo Clinic, “can increase flexibility and improve your joints’ range of motion, allowing you to move more freely.” And having equal flexibility on both sides may help protect you from injury.”
Stretching before and after a workout has several specific benefits, and a physical therapist can help you figure out which stretches are best for you!
How can working with a physical therapist help me get more out of my workouts?
Stretching exercises provide so many important benefits that it’s easy to see why we use them so frequently in physical therapy.
It is critical to ensure that you stretch properly before and after your workouts. A physical therapist can design an exercise routine tailored to your specific needs. Whatever type of exercises you do, physical therapy can help you get the most out of them.
To help you feel better and stay healthy, physical therapy can combine targeted stretches with strength-building exercises, massage therapy, ultrasound therapy, heat or cold therapy, and many other techniques.
Your physical therapist can also advise you on the best stretches for your current physical condition and the type of activity you’re doing. It’s also critical to do the right exercises in the right order. We can make sure you’re stretching correctly for your needs and show you how to do so safely. Scheduling an appointment with a qualified physical therapist is a great first step in learning more about the correct techniques and stretches for the types of physical activity you are participating in.
What types of stretches are the most effective?
There are several types of stretches that can be done before and after a workout. It’s critical to understand which types are best for you and when to use them in a workout.
- Ballistic stretching entails bouncing movements that push muscles beyond their normal range of motion.
- Dynamic movements are those that are not held but cause muscles to stretch. These are frequently performed to prepare your muscles for movement.
- Static stretching entails holding a specific stretch for 10 to 20 seconds. This type of stretch should be done after a workout and should feel comfortable.
To find out more contact our Foothill Ranch Physical Therapy , Placentia Physical Therapy, Mission Viejo Physical Therapy, or Lake Forest Physical Therapy locations.Read More
What Are the Benefits of Foam Rolling?
Fascia is tissue that connects to muscles, bones, and ligaments to provide support throughout your body.
Fascia is elastic and can stretch and move as one with the rest of your body when it is working properly. However, fascia can tighten and stiffen as a result of intense workouts, poor posture or movement patterns, stress, and lifestyle factors, restricting movement and even causing pain.
Unfortunately, traditional stretching does not always release tight fascia. To release those tight muscles and tissue, direct pressure from a massage therapist, or a tool like a foam roller, or even a lacrosse ball, is required. Muscles and fascia must be supple and elastic in order for muscles to move and function properly.
Benefits of Foam Rolling
1. Enhances Range of Motion and Performance
Exercise, injury, and lifestyle choices can cause fascia tightening and trigger points, or “knots.” These knots are what limit mobility as well as performance. Foam rolling can help to break up those knots and restore muscles and soft tissue to normal function, thereby increasing range of motion. With a greater range of motion, you can improve your workout performance by fully engaging muscles to increase strength and power.
2. Relieves Muscle Pain and Promotes Recovery
Fascia provides support and protection to your muscles. Fascia can tighten as a result of overuse, injury, or even inactivity, causing inflammation and irritation. Foam rolling helps to break up those knots, which can improve circulation to your muscles and connective tissues. Your muscles will recover faster and with less soreness if you have better circulation and more oxygen.
3. Muscle Relaxation
Foam rolling, like deep tissue massage, applies direct pressure to tight muscles and knots, allowing them to relax and release tension. “Rolling” over your muscles and trigger points has the same effect as a massage therapist kneading your muscles.
4. Muscle Lengthening & Injury Prevention
Foam rolling, like the increasing range of motion, allows you to stretch your muscles more effectively. Foam rolling lengthens muscles and dissolves scar tissue, which can prevent you from reaching your deepest stretch. It enables muscles to return to their normal length, allowing for proper muscle function. There is far less risk of injury when your muscles are stretched and function properly.
5. Restore Muscle Imbalances
Foam rolling allows your body to perform better because it can relax tight muscles, improve range of motion, and lengthen muscles. It assists in correcting muscle imbalances by relaxing overactive, tight muscles and allowing proper movement to strengthen weak, underactive muscles.
6. Immune System Boosting
A healthy myofascial system corresponds to a healthy immune system. Your lymphatic system detoxifies and maintains the health of your system. Lymph, also known as lymphatic fluid, runs along your body’s facial plane. When the fascia in your body is tight, it restricts lymph movement. Foam rolling loosens tight fascia, allowing proper detoxification and immune function.
Our trained Orange County Physical Therapists often suggest and use foam rolling to assist our patients. Call or text us at 949.716.5050 to learn more!Read More