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Physical Therapy: Q & A


The short answer is yes. Before explaining why and how physical therapy can relieve your pain, let’s review what is causing it. The bones that form the spine (vertebrae) are cushioned by small, spongy discs. Healthy discs act as shock absorbers and help maintain the spine’s flexibility. When a disc is damaged, due to wear and tear or injury, it may bulge or break open, resulting in a herniated (slipped or ruptured) disc. A herniated disc often presses on nerve roots, causing pain, numbness and weakness where the nerve travels. The herniated disc in your low back (lumbar spine) is ultimately creating the pain and numbness in your buttock and down your leg; this is called sciatica. Herniated discs that do not press on a nerve may not cause any pain at all.

A physical therapist will perform an in-depth evaluation to determine a treatment program that will effectively address your symptoms. However, physical therapy treatment also involves addressing the actual dysfunctions that caused the herniated disc in the first place. Without identifying the underlying causes, you will likely suffer with this condition for years. Your treatment may include pelvic traction, gentle massage, ice and heat therapy, ultrasound, electrical muscle stimulation, postural adjustments, stretching, core-stabilization, and stretching exercises.

In addition, avoiding prolonged postures, such as sitting or bending may alleviate your symptoms. Your therapist may also recommend sitting and driving with a lumbar roll.

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Written by Brooks Juneau

May 25, 2008 at 3:41 pm

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