Sports Rehabilitation 101: Treating Lumbar Disc Disorders
Lumbar disc disorders are incredibly common among adults, and adult athletes in particular. As a group, the category of lumbar disc disorders is very large. It includes everything from degenerative disk disease to disk herniations and even certain infections. What these conditions all have in common is that they are caused by problems with the cushioning between the vertebrae of the lower back.
Lumbar disc disorders are the single most common cause of lower back pain in adults. The pain can be described as intermittent to constant, with spasms of the low back muscles, pain and even weakness of the lower extremities, there may be numbness in the feet, and there can be a stabbing feeling in the low back.
Pain is frequently centered in the middle lower back. Progression of pain down a lower extremity indicates the health condition is becoming more severe.
In such cases patients with lumbar disc disorders may report pain in the genitals, groin, buttocks, arms, and legs. As disc pressure pushes on the nerve root, numbness and tingling may also occur.
The onset of lumbar disc disorders isn’t always tied to a certain traumatic event, like a bicycle fall or a sports injury. Rather, lumbar disc impairments may become apparent when sitting on soft surfaces or for long periods of time. Lifting heavy objects can also cause back pain to flair.
Who Suffers from Lumbar Disc Disorders?
Lumbar disk disorders can happen to anyone. These disorders do tend to be more common among older adults, as with all lower back pain conditions. Some of the conditions that fall into this category, such as degenerative disc disease, are viewed as an expected part of aging, like developing gray hair. But that doesn’t mean seniors have to suffer for years as their lower backs ache.
Weight can play a role in a person’s likelihood of having a lumbar disc disorder, such as degenerative disc disease. People who are overweight with poor muscle tone are at a greater risk of suffering from lumbar disc disorders.
Beyond age and body mass index (BMI), the biggest risk factors for lumbar disc disorders include genetics and smoking. Adults who have had spine surgery in the past, and those with a history of cancer, drug use, or infections, should let their physical therapists know this information, as it could have an impact on their treatment plan.
How Can Sports Rehabilitation Experts Treat Lumbar Disorders?
Physical therapists who specialize in sports rehabilitation have expertise in treating patients with a wide variety of physical ailments.
Before coming up with a treatment plan for pain in the spine or lumbar region, a physical therapist will perform an examination that takes the following information into account:
- Medical history
- Lumbar, thoracic, and lower extremity movement patterns
- Motor control of the “core”
- Ability to walk
- Functional goals
At the most conservative end of the spectrum, a physical therapist who specializes in sports rehabilitation will develop a plan of care to decrease the impairments, limitations, and restrictions of the health condition. Ultimately to achieve the functional goals of the patient.
Stretching and flexibility exercises are an important part of any sports rehabilitation program. When done properly, simple exercises that increase range of motion in the joints and muscles around the spinal area can bring real relief. Strengthening exercises that work the trunk muscles can take weight off the spinal joint and bring medication-free pain relief, as well.
Most effective sports rehabilitation programs include manual therapy and education about proper posture and body mechanics, since small changes in how a person sits and lifts can help relieve the discomfort associated with lumbar disc disorders. If sports rehabilitation exercises are not enough, and if additional treatment is necessary, then the physical therapist would make a referral back to an Orthopedic Spine Surgeon for consultation.
Twin Boro: Direct Access to Sports Rehabilitation Experts
Twin Boro Physical Therapy is a leader in sports rehabilitation. Our physical therapists have decades of experience treating people with lumbar disc disorders. To schedule a consultation appointment, call1-732-444-3578 or book an appointment online.