Herniated Discs of the Back

By Ehren Allen, Certified Manual Therapist/Physical Therapist

What are Herniated Discs?

A herniated disc is a common cause of pain in the lower back which can cause a variety of symptoms in the back or neck. It may also cause symptoms in the arms and legs. Herniated discs can also occur in the neck or cervical region.  These can be very painful and can often occur with simple activities like a cough or sneeze.

Diagram showing disc in the spinal column highlighting the difference between a healthy disc and a herniated discs. JOI Rehab

Herniated Discs

Herniated Disc Causes

A herniated disc occurs when the outer ring becomes weak or torn and allows the inner portion to slip out. A disc can slip out of place while you are twisting or turning to lift an object. Lifting a heavy object can place great strain on the lower back often resulting in a herniated disc

  • Sudden Twist or Turns
  • Lifting a heavy object

Risk Factors for Herniated Discs

An individual can make themselves less likely to suffer a herniated disc through physical activity and healthy lifestyle choices. Some risk factors that make an individual more susceptible to herniation of spinal discs include:

  • Being Overweight
  • Weak Muscles
  • Age is another risk factor but it is unavoidable.

Symptoms of Herniated Discs

Symptoms may range form mild discomfort, to severe pain and loss of strength and sensation. The JOI Spine team has experts to evaluate and treat herniated discs.  Although herniated disks can happen in any part of your spine, they are most common in the lower part of your backbone (the lumbar spine), just above your hips. The pain may spread from your back to your buttocks, thighs, and even to your calves.

Man suffering from disc herniation. Herniated discs in the spine can prevent you from doing normal tasks. JOI Rehab

Image of Man in Pain from Herniated Disc

Can a Herniated Disc Heal on its Own?

Symptoms may improve or totally go away. But the herniated disc does not actually heal. The inflammation can subside and if the disc fragment was small, the patient’s pain may go away in a matter of weeks. It’s important to realize, though, that even if a patient feels better as time goes on, there’s a risk for another flare-up in the future.

How do you Fix a Herniated Disc?

Treatment options range from conservative therapy to advanced surgical procedures.  The treatment for less severe herniated disc can include physical therapy to address core stability, flexibility, posture, ergonomics, and pain. Injections to decrease inflammation that leads to pain can also be given, which can help resolve symptoms in a lot of cases.

A larger herniation that compresses the nerve with resulting muscle weakness or a herniation where symptom resolution can’t be achieved conservatively may require surgery by an orthopedic specialist. A procedure known as a “Discectomy” is performed to remove the part of the disc pressing on the nerve.

Please watch this Video on Herniated Discs. 

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Whether you are suffering from back or neck issues, joint pain, or injuries resulting from any type of activity.  JOI has 13 physical therapy clinics conveniently located in Jacksonville and Northeast FL.  Our clinicians specialize in orthopedic rehab. To schedule an appointment with an Orthopaedic Back and Neck Specialist online by clicking on the book an appointment.

By: Ehren Allen, Certified Manual Therapist/Physical Therapist

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