Herniated disc rehabilitation is a niche industry within the back, neck and sciatica pain sectors. Rehabilitation is the specialty of physical therapists and sports medicine physicians the world over. Back pain sufferers are the best customers and typically require the longest term rehab of virtually any type of client. While it is important to properly rehabilitate actual injuries, it is also crucial to understand the very real limits of most rehab therapy options, particularly in patients with chronic and seemingly intractable pain.
This article will discuss whether rehabilitation of a disc injury is even possible, and more importantly, whether or not it is necessary in order to enact pain relief.
Herniated Disc Rehabilitation Techniques
Herniated disc rehab is part of most conservative prescriptions for disc pain treatment. Physical therapy is one of the most universally endorsed and applied treatments for herniated discs, although I often wonder what justifies its use and how does a doctor think it will help?
Physical therapy consists mostly of exercises and stretches which are well documented to help relieve the effects of diagnosed disc pain in many patients. But, how exactly do they work? This seems a mystery. Ask your doctor or therapist and they will give you a story about strong back and abdominal muscles helping to stabilize the injury, thereby allowing the disc to heal. This is medical mythology at best and a dirty lie at worst.
Let’s look at the truth.
Rehabilitating Herniated Discs
Exercise does not stabilize herniated discs. Exercise does not repair herniate discs. Exercise does, however, provide temporary pain relief for many sufferers. The reason may be very simple.
Some herniations are utterly misdiagnosed as the actual source of pain. The real reasons for some of these chronic back pain conditions includes a variety of soft tissue pathologies and/or regional ischemia, which affects the muscles and nerves.
Exercise is proven to increase localized and general circulation, providing much needed oxygen to starved or damaged tissues. This is why it feels so good to exercise. However, once the heart rate and activity levels settle down, the pain inevitably returns.
Sound familiar? Maybe reflects your experience? Yeah, mine too.
Herniated Disc Rehabilitation Program
Muscular injuries, surgical recoveries and many other health issues require rehabilitation. Herniated discs get “rehabilitated” more than virtually any other dorsopathy condition; yet do not change structurally in response to the therapy. What is the sense? I will tell you. It is very profitable.
Conservative back pain care is a gold mine; a veritable license to print money. I know personally, since I helped to support this industry for decades by contributing virtually all my disposable, and much of my non-disposable, income to a variety of therapists. Where did it get me? Nowhere. It just made me poor.
I am not saying that physical therapy is bad. In fact, it is excellent. I am just providing an objective viewpoint for those who do not understand that these exercises and stretches will not cure a herniated disc and are not even designed to do so.
To all you therapists out there, do not take this article as a knock. I think your work is great and among healthcare professionals, you are some of the most enlightened. You work hands-on with patients, when many doctors will not even perform a proper diagnostic exam anymore. I know many of you even disagree with the diagnosis received by your patients and use your services to show them the truth. To these physical therapy professionals, I salute you!