Physical therapy can be a very useful component of bulging disc treatment. It’s often used as a complement to other treatments, including medication or heat/cold therapy.
Why physical therapy?
It might sound like a hassle at first, but attending physical therapy sessions and performing assigned stretches and exercises at home can help address bulging disc symptoms in many ways. For one, it can reduce the pain that you feel from the disc placing pressure on a nerve root. It can also relieve some of the stress placed on your spine as a whole by strengthening the muscles that surround it and improving the overall flexibility of this part of the body. Plus, exercise as a whole can help bring oxygen and nutrients to the relatively poorly circulated spinal components, helping the body heal itself naturally.
What might physical therapy entail?
Your particular physical therapy schedule might be totally different from someone else’s, even if they have the exact same diagnosis that you do. This is because everybody is different and physical therapists take into account what your specific goals are. Maybe your job is very labor-intensive, you have to drive long distances regularly or you work at a desk all day. Either way, your treatment plan may change to reflect your lifestyle and medical history.
Some more common physical therapy exercises and activities include:
- Testing out ergonomic postures for working, sleeping, etc.
- Determining which activities should be avoided as you heal
- Making other activities less stressful on your back by consciously improving the posture and motions you make while performing them
- Using electrical stimulation to address pinched nerves
- Completing stretches and strengthening exercises
- Using soft tissue massage to address pain and tension
- Practicing traction exercises to gently pull the spinal joints and the muscles surrounding them (which may temporarily relieve a pinched nerve)
Timeframes for physical therapy
Odds are that you won’t simply go to a few physical therapy sessions and have your bulging disc symptoms go away forever. Managing these symptoms is often an ongoing process, sometimes taking weeks or months before significant results can be noticed. For that reason, it is important to be patient and stay motivated while you work closely with your doctor throughout your treatment process.