What is a Herniated Disc?

A herniated disc refers to a disc lesion in the spine, which can cause local symptoms and can sometimes radiate to the legs or arms depending on the location of the lesion. This condition can occur gradually or as a result of a false movement. The hernia is usually located in the neck or lower back. It sometimes appears in the thoracic region in the middle of the back.The intervertebral discs may be damaged due to poor lifting technique, repetitive intense activity or excessive body weight. A combination of several factors can contribute to the development of a herniated disc.With age, the discs lose their gelatinous property, decreasing the size of the disc and the space between the vertebrae. Therefore, the spine becomes less mobile and may become more prone to injury.


Structures involved

The spine is made up of 24 ​vertebrae,​ each separated by an i​ntervertebral disc​, a small cushion that acts as a shock absorber during spinal movement. These discs consist of a fibrous ring called the​ annulus fibrosis w​ ith a gelatinous substance in the center called the ​nucleus.​ In a ​herniated disc,​ the nucleus pushes through the fibrous ring, exerting pressure on the nerves​ of the spine.page1image3462661504


Signs & Symptoms that you may experience

Symptoms vary according to the pressure applied to the nerves and can vary greatly from one person to another. When nerves are irritated, a sensation of pain, numbness and/or weakness in the arms or legs may be felt. A herniated disc in the lower back often leads to irritation of the sciatic nerve, causing acute pain radiating towards the leg. A herniated disc in the neck causes pain in the neck and upper shoulders and may radiate towards the arm.



Your rehabilitation plan, health profile, fitness level and nutritional status affect the recovery time.​ I​ n most cases, you can expect a full recovery from a herniated disc. As a general rule, this condition may take several

months to fully recover. In cases where the herniated disc is long-standing, the pain may sometimes resurface with no real cause or identifiable false movement and then subside with a return to an active lifestyle.



Early Stage

Relative rest is a good way to prevent your condition from getting worse. A few days of rest while reducing activitiesthatcausesignificant​p​ ainmaybenecessary,butitisveryimportanttoavoiddeconditioning.A quick return to your daily activities, light cardiovascular exercises that do not cause an increase in pain and exercises to strengthen the stabilizers in your neck or back, depending on the area affected by the hernia, will allow for a better recovery.


Follow your therapist’s advice. This will help you manage the various stages of the healing process and increase the odds of successful rehabilitation. Your therapist will accompany you during your personalized rehabilitation program to restore your joint range of motion, muscle strength and endurance, and functional state.

According to the principles of herniated disc rehabilitation, an active approach including the practice of physical activity, regaining a healthy body weight and the use of safe load-lifting principles are important elements for a functional recovery. A progressive training program over a period of a few weeks is quite common. Following that, maintaining an active lifestyle usually helps prevent the pain from returning.


Do not rely solely on a passive treatment approach. Each phase of the rehabilitation process is important. Patients who actively participate in their treatment plan tend to recover more quickly. Remember that pain is not always a good indicator of tissue damage. As soon as you feel better and the pain is well under control, introduce, in collaboration with your therapist, cardiovascular and strength-building exercises based on your tolerance. Remember that exercise is an excellent way to manage pain related to herniated discs.


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