Back pain is a leading cause of disability in the U.S., and living with it can restrict your activities greatly. Back pain and radiating pain and numbness in your arms and legs may be the result of disc problems in your spine. The discs in your spine are located between the bony vertebrae. Their function is to act as cushions between the bones, and enable you to twist, walk, bend, and lift objects.
However, disc problems do occur sometimes, and get in the way of life. These are examples of relatively common disc problems that can occur.
• Degenerative disc disease
• Herniated or prolapsed disc
• Bulging disc
• Spinal stenosis
Disc problems can be chronic, such as can occur with aging or as the result of excessive stress for long periods of time, such as obesity. They can also be acute and be the result of an accident or injury.
Whether acute or chronic, physical therapy can often help relieve symptoms caused by disc problems. A physical therapist and pain specialist can help determine the best course of treatment for your disc problems. These are some possible physical therapy approaches that can reduce pain.
• Stretching your hamstrings and other muscles to reduce strain on your spine.
• Strengthening certain muscles in your back, legs, or arms to reduce muscle imbalances that can be causing disc problems and pain.
• Application of heat to increase the flood of blood, leading to greater delivery of nutrients to the area and faster removal of waste products from the injured disc area.
• Application of ice to reduce inflammation and pain in the area.
• Use of modalities such as ultrasound and electrical stimulation to speed healing.
• Suspension therapy to relieve pressure on the spine and the affected disc or discs, with the effect of reducing pain.
If you have pain in your back or arms and legs, contact a pain specialist and physical therapist for advice. You may be able to find relief with a few simple strategies and go back to living your regular life without worrying about back pain.