Understanding the Benefits of Physiotherapy for a Herniated Disc

A herniated disc is a common health issue that can affect anyone. It happens when the jelly-like center of a spinal disc squeezes through a weak spot in the cartilage’s outer edge, leading to disc herniation. Yet, what is a herniated disc? Also, why does it happen?

As we age, herniated discs become more common due to a decrease in disc fluidity.

Disc herniation can be caused by a sudden movement like lifting a heavy object, jerking your back or even twisting too quickly.

What Are the Symptoms of Disc Herniation?

If you exhibit any of the following symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor to rule out other possible causes:

  • You experience a sensation of pins and needles that intensifies when you’re walking. 
  • You have discomfort down your leg or in your back/legs.
  • A feeling of tingling, pricking, or numbness in the legs and feet, and sometimes even neck pain.
  • Your back may feel heavy or tight.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Unexpected pain in the back or legs.

To diagnose a herniated disc, your doctor can examine you. Additionally, your physician may order an MRI or CT scan to get a clearer picture of your spine and verify the diagnosis.

Physiotherapy Treatment for a Herniated Disc

A physical therapist will start by gathering information about your symptoms and performing a thorough evaluation of the spine and associated muscles. They will also inquire into your overall well-being, any other issues you may be experiencing, and the activities of your daily life.

Depending on the severity, many herniated disc cases may require a combination of stretching and strengthening exercises. Typically, physiotherapy sessions last for 45-60 minutes and are carried out one or two times per week.

Spinal decompression therapy offers several benefits, in addition to providing relief from pressure on the spine. In the short term this can be achieved through manual therapy, and in the long term through the treatment of muscular compensations to improve strength in weak areas and reduce tension in others. The combination of manual therapy and active rehabilitation is effective for long-term improvement. 

Best Physical Therapy for a Herniated Disc

By incorporating either hands-on therapy or exercise treatment, physiotherapy in Mississauga can help to lessen your symptoms and accelerate your recovery. Hands-on therapy will focus on the parts of your body which are causing pain and might involve methods like joint mobilization or spinal manipulation. 

Exercise therapy, on the other hand, mainly concentrates on building up muscle strength, and posture corrections to reduce aches and impairment. Depending on your condition, a physiotherapist may suggest one or a combination of the following treatments:

Exercises to strengthen your muscles: These exercises serve to build up the muscles in your core, back and legs while boosting posture. At the same time, they prevent herniation during extreme movements such as twisting or lifting.

Core stability and breathing exercises: These are beneficial to everyday activities as they strengthen your back, abdomen and pelvic muscles.

Postural brace: In severe cases, a physiotherapist might suggest wearing a postural brace to help provide support for your back and reduce pain.

Tailored Exercises: Exercises that are tailored to your needs can help improve your health. These types of exercises are specially designed for you and your disorder. They may include conditioning, stretching, or a combination of the two.

Doing these will lower your risk of chronic pain, as well as provide other health benefits.


Please consult with your physician before engaging in any unsupervised exercises, especially if you have a herniated disc. Exercises should always be tailored to the individual, based on a professional assessment. Exercises provided in the wrong context may exacerbate your condition and cause further injury. It is important to follow a supervised exercise program that is tailored to your specific needs and condition.

Strengthening Exercises

Physical therapy that focuses on strengthening the muscles around your spine and the lumbar area is essential for those who have a herniated disc. Such workouts can help improve posture and lessen any acute or chronic pain and discomfort. Additionally, it is important to perform exercises that are tailored to meet your specific needs.

Commonly used strength exercises include:

Swimming is a great low-impact form of exercise, especially if you have a herniated disc. It can improve your mobility and range of motion while strengthening your cardiovascular system.

Pilates strengthens and increases flexibility in the core muscles, and regular practice can help improve posture and relieve low back pain.

Yoga is an effective, low-impact exercise for those who suffer from back pain. Doing yoga can increase flexibility and reduce tightness and stiffness in the back.

Stretching Workouts

People with herniated discs can greatly benefit from stretching exercises prescribed by a physiotherapist, which may include:

Seated Stretching

Take a seat on the ground with both legs stretched out in front of you. Flex your right knee and rest your right foot on the ground so that it’s at a 90-degree angle. Support your weight by placing your left hand behind your left hip. Twist to the right and position your left arm gracefully behind your right leg. Maintain this position for 10 seconds and then switch sides.

Standing Stretching

Stand with both feet shoulder-width apart. Now squat by flexing your hips and bringing your knees to your torso. Maintain this posture for 10 seconds and then move back to standing. Now, extend the right side of your body by bending to the left. Keep in this position for ten seconds and after that stretch out your left side by tilting toward the right.

Wall Stretching

Stand with your back against a wall and both legs extended in front of you. Bend your knees, put your hands behind your head, and press your hips toward the wall. Gradually lower your knees to the floor until you feel the stretch in the middle of your back. Hold this position for 10 seconds before standing back up.

Bottom Line

Physiotherapy is a viable therapeutic solution for herniated discs. Incorporating manual treatment and therapeutic exercises can minimize your discomfort and hasten your recovery. Depending on the seriousness of your condition, your physiotherapist could suggest one or a combination of treatments such as core reinforcement exercises, muscle-building activities, breathing workouts, postural supports, and specialized exercises.

Reach out to Mississauga’s Body Science Therapy today and we’ll help you get rid of your herniated disc pain. We are now taking bookings for new appointments!