The best treatment for chronic lower back pain depends on the cause of the pain. There are many causes of back pain, and while most can be treated effectively, different back issues call for different treatments.
Back pain caused by straining the back muscles or ligaments can usually be remedied with relatively straightforward treatment and time to heal completely. You may also need to adjust how you lift heavy objects or perform some movements to prevent the injury from recurring.
Other causes of back pain, such as a herniated disc, can often be treated by changing your lifestyle and habits.
What is a Herniated Disc?
The spine is composed of segmented pieces of bone that are connected. This segmentation is what allows your spine to flex and bend. To keep the bones in your spine from rubbing against each other, the areas between the bones have small rubbery discs that act as shock absorbers.
These discs are composed of two materials. The tough, rubbery outside is called the annulus, and the soft, jellylike inside is called the nucleus. Aging can weaken the annulus and cause it to rupture. When this happens, the nucleus can leak out and irritate the nerves that run along the spinal column.
Causes and Symptoms of a Herniated Disc
A herniated disc is almost always the result of a condition called disc degeneration, which affects all of us. Over time your discs age and begin to deteriorate and become less flexible. The older we get, the more likely it is that these discs can be ruptured by even a simple, abrupt movement or twisting of the body.
You can have a herniated disc without knowing it. If the rupture is not touching a nerve, there will be no pain. But the presence of a herniated disc is generally indicated by three symptoms:
- Tingling or Numbness: You may experience numbness and tingling in the area of the back where the herniated disc is located. This tingling can radiate down the leg depending on which side of the spine it’s on.
- Arm and Leg Pain: If the herniated disc is located in your lower back, you may experience shooting pains in your buttocks and legs. Simply sneezing or coughing can be enough to send sharp stabs of pain radiating down your back, buttocks and legs.
- Weakness: The damaged disc can affect the nerves, weakening the muscles they’re attached to. You may have trouble walking or grasping items because of this.
Herniated Disc Treatment with Physiotherapy
There is no instant cure for a herniated disc. Generally, any treatment will take four to six weeks before the back is completely pain-free and the normal range of movement is restored. One of the best ways to treat a herniated disc is with physiotherapy. Physiotherapy can help alleviate any immediate and debilitating pain you experience.
Physiotherapists will use modern techniques and machines, including laser, ultrasound and shockwave machines, to ease the pain and allow you to continue with your daily routine as much as possible. At the same time, they will start you on a course of treatment that addresses the cause of the issue.
These treatments include training you to use the correct form to move your back and the right muscles to lessen the strain on your discs. They will also gently stretch you and do exercises with you while checking that your form is correct and recommending certain exercises to help relieve pressure on the nerves. Ice and heat therapy are also often recommended.
Your body may respond to some treatments better than others, and your physiotherapist may try a range of treatments, taking note of the treatments that work best to help them design a custom treatment plan just for you.
How to Avoid Recurring Herniated Discs
Some factors that can increase the likelihood of suffering a herniated disc are weight, physical labor, and smoking. Changing your lifestyle and daily habits can go a long way to ensuring your spinal discs stay healthy.
Excessive weight puts added stress on the discs in the lower back. If you’re overweight, you may have already felt the negative effects on your knees, hips and lower back muscles. Getting into a low-impact exercise like swimming is a great way to lose weight effectively without putting a lot of stress on your discs, and it’s also one of the best ways to prevent recurring disc pain.
The best physiotherapy clinics will suggest that if you often come home from work with an aching back, you should analyze the movements you use during the working day and come up with more back-friendly movements. Your physiotherapist can help recommend movements that will allow you to avoid any harmful on-the-job accidents.
If you smoke, consider quitting. Smoking can cause the discs to break down faster by lessening the oxygen the discs need to remain healthy.
Visit the Best Physiotherapists in Bangkok
If you think you might be suffering from a herniated disc, please make an appointment to visit the Bangkok Physiotherapy Center. They’ll be able to pinpoint the issue and recommend a course of treatment that will restore your range of movement so you can enjoy life once again.