Physical Therapy for Herniated Discs

PT may include deep tissue massage, hot/cold therapies, hydrotherapy, and exercise

Reviewed by Jason M. Highsmith, MD

Physical therapy often plays a major role in herniated disc recovery. Its methods not only offer immediate pain relief, but they also teach you how to condition your body to prevent further injury.

There are a variety of physical therapy techniques. Passive treatments relax your body and include deep tissue massage, hot and cold therapy, electrical stimulation (eg, TENS), and hydrotherapy.
Your physical therapy program will usually begin with passive treatments. But once your body heals, you will start active treatments that strengthen your body and prevent further pain. Your physical therapist will work with you to develop a plan that best suits you.

Passive Physical Treatments for Herniated Discs

Active Treatments You May Try in Physical Therapy
Active treatments help address flexibility, posture, strength, core stability, and joint movement. An exercise program may also be prescribed to achieve optimal results. This will not only curb recurrent pain but will also benefit your overall health. Your physical therapist will work with you to develop a program based on your specific diagnosis and health history.

Your physical therapist will teach you ways to condition and strengthen your back to help prevent future pain. You may learn self-care principles so you understand how to best treat your symptoms. The ultimate goal is for you to develop the knowledge to maintain a pain-free lifestyle.

It's essential that you learn how to exercise and condition your back after the formal physical therapy ends. If you don't implement the lessons you learned during physical therapy, you won't enjoy its long-term results. By taking care of your back on your own, you may prevent further herniated disc pain.

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