Sciatica (Disc herniation with resulting leg pain)

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205089Diagnoses: A herniated disc (bulging disc) refers to a problem with the cushion-like structure found between the vertebrae. The spinal disc consists of a soft center encompassed by a tough exterior, similar to a jelly donut. Herniations occur when cracks in the outer layer allow the softer “jelly” portion to push through the exterior layer. This can irritate the surrounding nerves resulting in radiating symptoms down the legs.

Causes: Disk herniation is most typically caused by general wear and tear called disc degeneration. With age, discs tend to gradually lose water content, making them less flexible and more prone to injury. It can be difficult to peg the cause of a herniated disc, but is sometimes related to putting extra stress on the back, such as turning or twisting while lifting or prolonged bending.

Symptoms: In some cases, herniated discs may cause no symptoms and their existence might be unknown. In other cases, symptoms might include:

  • Low back or leg pain
  • Numbness and tingling in the leg or foot
  • Leg and foot weakness

Our Physical Therapy Treatment: Physical therapy treatment will be dependent on the patient and their response to exercise. Treatment might include:

  • Mechanical diagnoses/treatment for improved disc placement and pain reduction
  • Postural education and awareness
  • Manual mobilizations
  • Soft tissue mobilizations
  • Core stability and strengthening exercises
  • Functional activity training

Goals of therapy will be to provide the patient with enough knowledge to independently treat this condition in the future, as well as provide a home exercise plan to lessen the likelihood of reoccurrence.

Diseases and Conditions. (n.d.). Retrieved April 20, 2015, from