Disc Herniation Treatment/ "Slipped Disc" Treatment

You may have heard of someone complaining that they suffered a slipped disc in their back. Or they have turned down your request to help them move furniture as they have a herniated disc in their back. Sounds serious? It depends.

Our Physiotherapists often see patients looking for disc herniation treatment and prevention ideas. Not all disc herniation or slipped discs are equal, and many factors will be considered. This allows us to determine the best approach to help.

What is Disc Herniation?

What is Disc Herniation

To understand disc herniation or slipped disc, we must understand the basic anatomy of the spine.

The spine consists of 3 main segments and each has a specific number of vertebrae.

Cervical (neck) – 7 vertebrae

Thoracic (upper/mid back) – 12 vertebrae

Lumbar (low back) – 5 vertebrae

Between each vertebrae is what we call an intervertebral disc. This is the ‘disc’ that can get ruptured, herniated or slipped when it comes out of place between the vertebrae.

Disc HerniationThere are different levels of severity and slippage directions of the disc herniation. Some may be a mild slippage without any significant symptoms. Others may be more severe and apply more pressure on a spinal nerve. This can cause pain, sensation changes and/or weakness in a particular region of the body.

Disc herniations can occur in all areas of the spine. They are commonly found in the low back (lumbar spine) and to a lesser degree, the neck (cervical spine).

Our Physiotherapists can provide a physical assessment to see if a disc herniation or injury is a possibility. Depending on the symptoms, we may recommend further diagnostic imaging. This may include CT Scans or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to determine the extent of the injury.

Risk factors of Disc Herniation

MRI Disc Herniation

As the spine ages and through wear and tear, the ligaments, discs and joints lose their flexibility and degenerates. Some studies have shown that you may begin to see signs of disc degeneration in your 20s.


Heavier individuals may likely suffer more from disc herniations. This is due to the sustained increased load in the spine and the discs.


Poor posture can put the spine in a vulnerable and weakened position. This can increase the load on the spine and intervertebral disc. Not lifting properly can also hurt the spine.


If you have family members that have back issues and disc herniations, you may be predisposed to it. Genetics can play a part in the structure and vulnerability of your spine.

Sedentary lifestyle

Being inactive can weaken the support systems of the spine. The spine can be hurt easily with increased load and demands.

It is often difficult to determine a single incident that has caused the disc herniation. Disc herniations can occur (without symptoms) even in those who do not have any history of spinal pain.

Symptoms of Disc Herniation

Depending on the area of the spine where the herniation has occurred, and whether the herniation is putting pressure on the nerve, symptoms can be experienced in different parts of the body.

If it is in the neck, you may feel symptoms in the shoulder, arm, hand and fingers.
When disc herniations are impinging nerves in the low back, you may get symptoms in back and the legs.

Thoracic (upper/mid back) herniations are much less common, and will be felt in the torso region.

Symptoms commonly experienced with disc herniation

Pain – along the distribution of the nerve that is affected. This can be felt like a sharp, shooting, electric-like pain

Weakness – may be experienced in certain muscles that are affected by the nerve connected to it

Numbness and Tingling – may be experienced in the body region that is affected by the nerve

Disc Herniation treatment - Our approach

Disc Herniation Treatments
There are certain exercises that can decrease painful symptoms of the herniation. Your Physiotherapist will instruct which exercise(s) will be most appropriate. Helping to stabilize the spine with exercise will prevent further damage to the disc. Exercise progressions are important to challenge the spine without hurting the discs.
Acupuncture For Disc Herniation
Acupuncture may be part of your treatment from your Physiotherapists. In our experience, Acupuncture is an effective treatment for disc herniation. It can help decrease inflammation, pain, muscle tension, and re-balance nerve activity.
Postural and positional advice
Proper resting positions that can decrease symptoms and prevent worsening of the herniation. Our Physiotherapists will educate you on the positions that are helpful. And also which ones to avoid to prevent further damage.
Electro Modalities
Electrotherapy For Disc Herniation
Electrical Stimulation therapies such as Ultrasound, TENS, IFC, and UStim (ultrastimulating current) may be used. These non-invasive modalities are used to help decrease pain, inflammation, and muscle tension.

Contact your Physiotherapists at EastWest Physiotherapy today for effective disc herniation treatment techniques.

Call 604 398 2936 and speak to any of our staff to learn more or schedule an appointment.
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