If you suffer from back pain due to herniated disc and are afraid that you might have to live with it. Then it's time for you to relax and get ready to lead a quality life. You can return to your daily routine by availing of Physiotherapy services. Physiotherapy not only helps to enhance the healing process, but reduces pain, and also helps the patient to get back to normal function. This blog will throw some light on the herniated disc and its physiotherapy management.
What is a Herniated Disc?
The spine is made up of vertebrae, which are held next to each other by the disc. The disc is a combination of strong connective tissues, made of a strong outer layer, annulus fibrosus, and a gel-like center called nucleus pulposus. The disc may start to lose water content, which makes the disc less effective as a cushion. This may cause herniation through a crack in the outer layer. Disc herniation commonly occurs in the bottom two discs of the lumbar spine. A herniated disc can press on the nerves in the spine and might cause pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness of the leg.
Physiotherapy management comprises of a number of therapies and techniques like:
Herniated disc presses on the nerve in the spinal canal, which causes pain and inflammation along the spinal walls. Cold therapy is found to be effective for pain relief because it constricts the veins along the spine, slowing the circulation and reducing inflammation.
Heat therapy is a non-invasive pain relief therapy for muscle and joint pain. This therapy is used to promote blood flow, blood helps to heal the area by delivering extra oxygen and nutrients, it removes waste byproducts from muscle spasms reduces pain in the joints, relaxes tight muscles, tendons and ligaments.
Kinesio-tape is a latex-free tape that can be worn for days. Kinesio Tape is applied to the spinal area to facilitate the body's natural healing process while providing support and stability to muscles and joints without restricting the range of motion. It also helps to increase blood flow and reduce pressure on the nerves which helps to decrease pain (localized as well as radiating) and inflammation.
Therapeutic Ultrasound helps to increase blood flow and reduce pain. It uses ultrasonic waves that pass into the skin causing a vibration of local tissues. This vibration causes deep heating in the area without any sensation of heat. As the vibrations created by the ultrasound pass through the soft tissue, this increases heat within the tissue, which in turn increases blood flow, reduces pain, relaxes muscles, increases the extensibility of connective tissues, promotes scar tissue breakdown, and improves flexibility.
Vasopneumatic compression helps to accelerate recovery. It cycles ice-cold water and air through a sleeve which is placed around the affected part of the body. This integrated cold and compression therapy helps to reduce pain, swelling, muscle spasms and enhances lymphatic function and oxygenated blood flow.
Transcutaneous electrical stimulations use electrical currents that pass through the electrodes placed directly on the patient's skin. Transcutaneous electrical stimulations cause an increase in the blood flow to promote healing and reduce inflammation. Stimulation act on the pain gate to block the transmission of pain signals, it also causes muscle stimulation for neuromuscular re-education and strengthening.
Low power laser therapy is effective in the treatment of patients with acute cases of disc herniations. It speeds up the recovery process, decreases inflammation, and pain.
Spinal traction is a form of decompression therapy, it helps to relieve pressure from the spine. This type of distraction can be performed with manual techniques as well as machines. Spinal traction is indicated for the treatment of herniated discs, it decompresses spinal discs and facet joints by utilizing traction, distraction, and body positioning.
Manipulative treatment for disc herniation is found to be safe, effective, and seems to be as effective as other therapies. It leads to short-term pain relief when suffering from acute low back pain and has an effect similar to NSAIDs. It includes techniques like spinal mobilization, spinal manipulation, massage, myofascial release, etc.
Stretching exercises are included in the treatment plan to decrease soft tissue tightness and improve posture to balance the forces placed on the spine.
The spine is supported by strong muscles and thus can better handle pain. Core muscle stability is important to regain strength and power. Strengthening exercises help the patient to regain functionality.
Treatment of disc herniation is important to control pain, development of disability, prevent a recurrence, and accelerate the return to work. Therefore immediate treatment should be taken before the condition progresses further.