Lumbar Disc Herniation

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By: Dustin Steffan, DPT Seattle Physical Therapist 

The diagnosis of a lumbar disc injury can be both intimidating and confusing. The healing process is generally a long one, but there are a number of treatment options available. The first choice to be made is whether to pursue conservative management or surgical intervention. Timing of more invasive treatment is a subject debated in the medical literature and is generally considered a last resort. Presence of the following can be a more pressing issue that requires work up and possible referral for surgical consult:

Transitioning from a symptomatic disc to an asymptomatic disc can be a long process. Staying active is very important. This can involve any light/low impact activity such as swimming or walking. Avoiding sitting for extended periods, especially in slumped positions, is a universal recommendation. If your work at a computer, consider investing in a sit to stand desk, or make changes to your work station to allow for frequent changes in position.

Managing disc hydration is another good self-care treatment means. Discs imbibe fluid when you are laying down, so you will have the most water content and disc pressure upon waking in the morning. If your pain is worst in the morning, this may be part of the reason. Over the course of the day, the disc desiccates and can be a pain generator towards the end of the day.

Additionally, avoid bending and lifting for the first 2-3 hours of the day