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I have a herniated disc. What does this mean and what can I do?

Updated: Dec 30, 2020

The purpose of an x-ray or MRI is to confirm your doctor’s diagnosis and to identify the specific structures involved. This information is useful if the injury is an emergency or if surgery is required. But, for most musculoskeletal diagnoses, this information will not change or benefit the understanding of how to treat your current condition. In a study of healthy subjects who reported having no back pain, 65% of the group were found to have a disc herniation or protrusion. Therefore, your bulging disc isn’t likely the cause of your pain. A disc herniation can be reversed by aligning the joints and improving your muscle function. For example, you need to manage the fact that you are unable to rotate to the right not the bulging disc at L3-L4. Any injection, surgery, or medication will fail if your muscles don’t have the ability to support your joints. Repairing damaged joints without addressing the muscles is like getting new tires on a car when the engine light comes on. A study done by Fritz et al. found that patients had less need for future health care and lower health care costs when they started with physical therapy compared to advanced imaging. Adapting your daily movement to ways more in line with your joint structure, environment, and activity demands will result in optimal body function. Ultimately, avoiding the need for an invasive procedure with an extensive recovery process.

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