So You Have an Injured Disc, Now What?
We treat several injuries in our clinic but one of the most common is back pain, and one of the most common causes of back pain is a herniated disc, which is sometimes called a bulging disc, and sometimes called a ruptured disc. Treatment for all of these is relatively straight forward. When hearing this diagnosis it may sound scary because many people start thinking of the activities they will miss out on and the long healing process. Many start getting anxious about surgery or the dreaded sciatica. Herniated discs can happen at any level in the spine but are most common in the neck and the lower back. It can cause pain, discomfort, and can keep you out of the activities you love to do. The good news is that surgery is usually not necessary. There are several ways in which we treat our patients that allow them to return to their daily activities without pain. This blog will dive into the symptoms of a disc injury, how long it takes to heal, what the healing process looks like, and how you can recover.Signs/Symptoms
*a disc injury can be diagnosed without imaging through a healthcare professional such as a PT based off of the symptoms below.
- Pain (worsens after sitting, standing, or specific quick movements like twisting)
- Numbness, tingling, or pain down the back of the leg/arm (typically one side only)
- Muscle weakness
- Muscle spasm
- No symptoms-(sometimes you just have a general pain in your back without the other symptoms. An examination of your reflexes, strength, and sensation could then rule in or rule out a herniated disc)
Disc pain such as a bulge or herniation can occur from one specific incident such as lifting a heavy weight incorrectly or it can occur from repetitive motions over time. It can also occur with age as the height of our discs decreases overtime and can cause irritation of the disc. When there is a heavy load placed on the back or neck the disc nucleus (center of the disc) can push into the outer disc (annulus) and go into the spinal canal and place pressure on the nerves.
How long is the healing process?
Typically the healing of a disc can heal in about 6-8 weeks, but you can start getting pain relief much faster than that. It is important that you do what you can after you are pain free to help the disc fully heal. However if you don’t get moving well you can continually aggravate the disc and prolong the healing and what you are missing out on. There are a few things that can be done to help speed up the healing process and allow you to return to your activities without pain.
How to help with pain
- Steroid injections
- Surgery is only necessary in specific cases, this is not meant for most people
Or the less scary options of:
- Modifying how you move (using proper muscle groups)
- Physical Therapy!
The easiest, fastest, and best thing you can do is visit a professional, qualified, hands-on physical therapist. Not only will a physical therapist relieve and treat the pain, but he/she will effectively treat the root-cause of the problem. You’ll find out whether you have a disc injury, or something entirely different, and you’ll be given effective back exercises to do at home, thereby ensuring that having an easy recovery which allows you to get back to the things you love most. The good news is there is treatment for your herniated/bulging disc.
If you feel as though you have had an back injury in the past, or you just need some information about how to prevent one in the future, contact us today. We invite you to ask about our free discovery visit and we look forward to assisting you with anything you may need. Remember, we’re here to help; we cannot wait to hear from you!
If you want even more information on how to ease your back pain click the image below for our FREE Ebook on Low Back Pain.