Diagnoses: A herniated disc (bulging disc) refers to a problem with the cushion-like structure found between the vertebrae. The spinal disc consists of a soft center encompassed by a tough exterior, similar to a jelly donut. Herniations occur when cracks in the outer layer allow the softer “jelly” portion to push through the exterior layer. This can irritate the surrounding nerves resulting in radiating symptoms down the arm.
Causes: Disk herniation is most typically caused by general wear and tear termed disc degeneration. With age, discs tend to gradually lose water contact, making them less flexible and more prone to injury. It can be difficult to peg the cause of a herniated disc, but is sometimes related to putting extra stress on the back, such as turning or twisting while lifting.
Symptoms: In some cases, herniated discs may cause no symptoms and their existence might be unknown. In other cases, symptoms might include:
- Neck or arm pain
- Numbness and tingling in the arm or hand
- Arm or hand muscle weakness
Our Physical Therapy Treatment: Physical therapy treatment will be dependent on the patient and their response to exercise. Treatment might include:
- Mechanical diagnoses/treatment for improved disc placement and pain reduction
- Postural education and awareness
- Manual mobilizations
- Soft tissue mobilizations
- Cervical stability and strengthening exercises
- Functional activity training
Goals of therapy will be to provide the patient with enough knowledge to independently treat this condition in the future, as well as provide a home exercise plan to lessen likelihood of reoccurrence.
Diseases and Conditions. (n.d.). Retrieved April 20, 2015, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/