Advanced Physical Therapy

Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease

In Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease, the disc which is located between the vertebrae begins to shrink, and the spaces between the vertebrae get narrower. The disc becomes less flexible. The disc is made up of an outer layer of ligaments called the annulus. The center of the disc is a gel-like substance, the nucleus. Discs have high water content, and as people age, the water content decreases and can cause degenerative disc disease. Degenerative disc disease can also be a result of wear and tear from poor posture, lifting, and bending techniques. It can be a result of excessive weight, poor nutrition, smoking, decreased bone density (osteoporosis), arthritis, protruding discs, and injuries or falls.

Signs of this condition include pain in the lower back, stiffness, and loss of motion in the low back. Signs can include sharp, shooting pains that may radiate from your low back down to the buttocks and into one or both legs, tingling or numbness, and burning in one or both legs.

Physical Therapy Treatment Plan: After careful evaluation by the physical therapist, the first step in treating this condition is to reduce pain, inflammation, and pressure on the disc. Treatments may include ice/heat, pelvic traction, electric muscle stimulation, ultrasound, manual therapy techniques, and exercise. Exercises will involve proper lifting, sitting, lying, standing, and bending. Also included will be proper posture, strengthening, and core stabilization exercises to the abdomen, lower back, legs, and pelvis. There will be stretching exercises for the legs and low back. Nerve gliding techniques may also be used as well as McKenzie or Williams flexion exercises.

After your initial prescription for physical therapy is completed, your physician and physical therapist will decide if you need to continue physical therapy or if you will be discharged to a home exercise program.

This information is provided as a learning resource for the benefit of our patients. It is NOT INTENDED to replace personal consultation with your medical professionals.

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