Many injured workers with a herniated disc do not have surgery. Rather they try to rehab on their own or under the direction of a doctor and therapists. The employee may return to work with or without restrictions. Most injured workers returning to work without restrictions are careful and self-limit activities so as to reduce the chance of reinjury or aggravation. In either case, its important to report any new injury or aggravation of pre-existing condition to the employer and your doctor. In the meantime, here is some typical nonsurgical rehabilitation routes chosen by workers.
Even if one doesn’t need surgery, the doctor may recommend that you work with a physical therapist. Patients are normally seen a few times each week for four to six weeks. In severe cases, patients may need additional weeks of care. The first goal of treatment is to control symptoms. Your therapist will help you find positions and movements that ease pain. Treatments of heat, cold, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation may be used in the first few sessions. Lumbar traction may also be used at first to ease symptoms of lumbar disc herniation. In addition, your therapist may use hands-on treatments such as massage or spinal manipulation. These forms of treatment are mainly used to help reduce pain and inflammation so you can resume normal activity as soon as possible.
The therapist shows you how to keep your spine safe during routine activities. You’ll learn about healthy posture and how posture relates to the future health of your spine. You’ll learn about body mechanics, how the body moves and functions during activity. Therapists teach safe body mechanics to help you protect the low back as you go about your day. This includes the use of safe positions and movements while lifting and carrying, standing and walking, and performing work duties.
Next comes a series of strengthening exercises for the abdominal and low back muscles. Working these core muscles helps patients begin moving easier and lessens the chances of future pain and problems. Creating a habit in doing home exercises is key to maintaining the ability to physically function. Many workers rise in the dark a half hour or more early to take any prescribed medication or doctor directed over the counter analgesics, stretch and do home exercises in order to get themselves ready to compete at work. On weekends, aerobic exercises such as walking or swimming are used for easing pain and improving endurance.
McCormick Law Office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin represents employees with cervical and lumbar herniated discs for disability benefits. Nonsurgical rehabilitation is an important part of recovery for many injured workers.