Herniated Disc: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments
A herniated disc is a condition that occurs when the soft material found between the bones in your spine (the discs) move out of place. This can cause pain and discomfort, as well as other mobility issues. The pain often radiates from the lower back down to one or both legs.
Herniated Disc Symptoms
Common symptoms of a herniated disc include:
- Pain in the lower back
- Numbness or tingling in the legs, feet, arms, and hands
- Muscle weakness
- Radiating pain (shooting pain) down one or both of your legs
- Loss of bladder or bowel control (rare but serious)
The most common cause of a herniated disc is age-related wear and tear. Other potential causes include a traumatic injury, obesity, or certain medical conditions.
Herniated Disc Treatment
Treatment for a herniated disc can vary depending on the severity of the condition and the associated symptoms. Nonsurgical treatments may include physical therapy, rest, ice and heat, anti-inflammatory medications, and/or steroid injections. If these treatments don’t provide relief, surgery may be recommended. Surgery for a herniated disc typically involves removing the portion of the disc that is pushing on the nerve root.
Recovery from a herniated disc can take some time and will likely involve lifestyle changes or physical therapy exercises to help improve mobility and reduce pain. Learning how to manage your condition can help you find relief and prevent further disc deterioration.
If you are experiencing symptoms of a herniated disc, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible to receive an accurate diagnosis and determine the best treatment plan for you. Early treatment can help reduce pain and discomfort, as well as prevent any further complications.
Helpful At-Home Exercises
- Glute Bridges: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Slowly lift your hips off the ground by pushing through your heels, squeezing your glutes at the top of the bridge before lowering them back to the ground.
- Bird Dog: Start on all fours with your back in a neutral position. Slowly extend one arm forward while simultaneously extending the opposite leg behind you, keeping your abdominals engaged throughout the exercise. Lower both limbs and repeat on the other side.
Be sure to consult with your medical provider before starting any exercise routine.
Treatment for a herniated disc is usually covered by insurance. Please contact your insurance provider for coverage details.
Get Help Today
At Peake Physical Therapy, our PTs have advanced training and vast experience in helping patients recover from back and neck pain. If you already have a medical provider, we can work with them to develop a comprehensive and coordinated care plan for you.
- Vanichkachorn, J., & Knezevic, N. (2016). Herniated Disc: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment. American Physical Therapy Association. https://www.apta.org/PTinMotion/NewsNow/2015/3/23/HerniatedDisc
- Herniated Disk: Treatment and Diagnosis. (2021). Johns Hopkins Medicine. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/herniated-disk
- Herniated Disc Overview. (2021). Spine-Health. https://www.spine-health.com/conditions/herniated-disc/herniated-disc-overview
- Herniated Disc: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options. (2020). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/herniated-disk/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20373090