Disc herniation is an increasingly common ailment among adults. Some of the symptoms of a herniated disc include leg pain, back pain, and weakness in the muscles of the lower extremities. A herniation of the spinal disc occurs when the spinal disc, or the cushion that sits between the vertebrae of the spine, is somehow pushed out of its normal position. Disc herniation generally causes problems when the spinal disc begins to put pressure on or pinches the nerves of the spinal column. A disc can become herniated suddenly by a traumatic event, such as an accident, or it can become gradually over time by a repetitive strain of the spine. Either way, the results are often devastating to the host.
The pressure placed on the nerves of the spine can cause pain that feels much like an electrical shock to the patient. If the herniation has occurred in the upper back, then the shocking sensations will be felt in the arms. If the herniation has occurred in the lower back, the patient will experience pain in the legs. Additionally, patients with herniated discs may experience an unusual amount of numbness or tingling in the arms or legs. Muscles may also feel numb on account of signals from the brain being interrupted by the pressure placed on nerves. Perhaps most alarmingly, patients with seriously herniated discs in their spine may also experience bowel or bladder problems.
Although treatments for disc herniation vary among patients and depend upon many factors including: the patient’s age, the patient’s activity level, and the patient’s symptoms. Possible treatments include surgery, medication, physical therapy, and activity restriction. Many times physicians prescribe a combination of treatments, but physical therapy is one of the most common forms of treatments prescribed to patients with a herniated disc. Out of all of the different types of physical therapy, water therapy, which provides patients with a number of unique benefits, is one of the most popular.
Water therapy exercise programs are known by a number of different names, including hydrotherapy, aquatic therapy, or pool therapy. These programs feature a number of water-based exercises and treatments designed to relieve back pain by conditioning and strengthening the muscles in the back. Water therapy is particularly useful to many patients suffering from back pain because while it can provide many of the same benefits as programs performed on dry land, it also serves as a method of therapy for those who experience too much pain with a land-based program. The buoyancy of the water helps to alleviate much of the pressure placed on the back by counteracting the effects of gravity. The buoyancy of the water also provides patients with support while they are immersed in water that helps to improve balance. Additionally, the gentle resistance that the water provides allows for patients to build and condition muscles with little risk of injury. Moreover, the hydrostatic pressure that patients experience while they are immersed in water can help to improve heart and lung pressure and improve the blood flow to muscles.