Effective Physiotherapy Techniques for Slip Disc Management

Effective Physiotherapy Techniques for Slip Disc Management

Slip disc, also known as a herniated or bulging disc, can be an incredibly painful and debilitating condition. Often originating from activities involving heavy lifting or sudden movements, or even the wear and tear of daily life, a slipped disc can compress the nerves in the spine, leading to pain, weakness, or numbness. Fortunately, physiotherapy has proven to be an instrumental tool in alleviating symptoms and promoting healing. This article aims to provide an overview of various physiotherapy techniques and exercises beneficial for slip disc management, and insights into how they promote spine health and recovery.

When To Seek Physiotherapy For Slip Disc?

When To Seek Physiotherapy For Slip Disc?A slipped disc, also known as herniated or prolapsed disc, refers to a condition where one of the discs in the spine ruptures and the gel inside leaks out. This can lead to pain, numbness, and weakness as it might press on the nerves. Recognizing the right time to seek physiotherapy can make a substantial difference in the outcomes.

Here’s when it’s essential to consider physiotherapy:

  • Early Symptoms

At the onset of back pain or discomfort, especially if the pain extends to your leg, or arm, or is accompanied by tingling or numbness. Early intervention can prevent further complications. And potentially reduce the intensity and duration of the pain.

  • After a Diagnosis

If you’ve been diagnosed with a slipped disc through an MRI or a CT scan, it’s advisable to start physiotherapy to help manage symptoms and promote healing.

  • Chronic Back Pain

If you’ve been experiencing back pain for more than six weeks, physiotherapy can offer relief by addressing the root cause of the pain.

  • Limited Range of Motion

Difficulty in moving, bending, or turning can be an indication of a slipped disc or other spinal issues. Physiotherapists can guide you in regaining mobility.

  • Post-surgical Recovery

If you’ve undergone surgery for a slipped disc, physiotherapy can aid in the recovery process, helping to restore strength, flexibility, and function.

  • When Medications Aren’t Enough

Painkillers and anti-inflammatories might offer temporary relief. However, physiotherapy addresses the underlying issues, making it a more long-term solution.

In all scenarios, it’s crucial to remember that each individual’s situation is unique. Therefore, consulting with a healthcare professional about the appropriateness of physiotherapy is essential. A tailored physiotherapy program can offer relief, promote healing, and provide tools and strategies to prevent future injuries.

What Are Some Physiotherapy Techniques For Slip Discs?

What Are Some Physiotherapy Techniques For Slip Discs?Physiotherapy for slip disc plays an integral role in the management and rehabilitation of patients. A wide range of techniques are utilized to alleviate pain, promote healing, and strengthen the back muscles. Here are some techniques of physiotherapy for slip disc and modalities commonly used for slip discs:

Manual Therapy

Manual therapy encompasses a range of hands-on techniques designed to improve tissue extensibility, increase range of motion, reduce pain, and improve function. For slipped discs, spinal mobilizations involve applying gentle, rhythmic movements to the spinal joints, helping to alleviate pain and improve the mobility of the joints. Spinal manipulation, on the other hand, is a more forceful technique that can offer instant relief from pain and restore function by realigning the spine.

Postural Training

Our posture, whether sitting, standing, or lying down, has a direct impact on the health of our spine. Incorrect postures, especially those maintained for extended periods, can put undue pressure on the discs, aggravating conditions like slipped discs. Through postural training, physiotherapists guide patients on adopting postures that distribute spinal loads evenly. They also provide ergonomic advice, especially beneficial for those with desk jobs, to ensure that their workstation setups do not contribute to disc stress.


Modalities are therapeutic tools or agents used to cause physiological changes in the body to aid in healing. TENS, or Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, for instance, employs electrical currents to provide pain relief by stimulating nerve fibers and blocking pain signals. Ultrasound, another commonly used modality, provides deep heating to soft tissues in the back. This heating effect enhances blood circulation, accelerating the healing process and reducing localized swelling. Heat and cold therapies, simple yet effective, can reduce muscle spasms, inflammation, and pain by either increasing blood flow or constricting blood vessels.

Pain Management Techniques

Beyond the immediate goal of healing the slipped disc, physiotherapy often addresses the accompanying pain symptoms. Deep tissue massage, a popular pain management technique, zeroes in on muscle knots and tensions that might exacerbate back pain. Through sustained pressure and specialized strokes, the massage releases these knots, offering relief. Trigger point release is another method focusing on muscle knots, or “trigger points.” Physiotherapists use specific pressure and manipulation techniques to release these points, alleviating pain and restoring muscle function.

McKenzie Method

Developed by Robin McKenzie, a physical therapist from New Zealand, the McKenzie Method is a comprehensive approach to spinal pain assessment and treatment. It’s characterized by a series of exercises and postural changes. The key principle here is to find positions and movements that “centralize” the patient’s pain or move it toward the midline of the back. Over time, this centralized pain diminishes. The method emphasizes patient empowerment and education, enabling them to manage their pain and symptoms effectively.


Slipped discs often impact nearby nerves, leading to pain, numbness, or tingling. Neurodynamics assesses the mobility and health of the nervous system. Techniques within neurodynamics are designed to improve nerve movement and function, thereby reducing symptoms related to nerve involvement. It involves mobilizing the nerve tissue through specific stretches and movements to relieve pressure and enhance nerve gliding and function.

Functional Training

Functional TrainingReal-life functionality is a primary concern for many patients, especially those eager to return to their everyday activities or jobs post-injury. Functional training in physiotherapy emphasizes this very goal. It focuses on training patients for specific activities of daily living or occupational tasks. For instance, a person who lifts heavy objects at work would be trained on the correct lifting techniques to prevent re-injury. By mirroring real-life activities, functional training ensures that rehabilitation is holistic, addressing both the injury and the patient’s lifestyle.

It’s essential to note that the best approach is usually individualized, depending on the patient’s specific needs, symptoms, and the severity of the slipped disc. It’s crucial to work with a licensed physiotherapist who can conduct a comprehensive assessment and recommend an appropriate plan of care.

What Are Some Targeted Exercises for Slip Disc Recovery?

What Are Some Targeted Exercises for Slip Disc Recovery?Slip disc recovery often involves a combination of rest, physiotherapy, and targeted exercises. These exercises aim to alleviate pain, strengthen the spine-supporting muscles, improve flexibility, and promote optimal spine health. Here are some targeted exercises commonly recommended for slip disc recovery:

Pelvic Tilt

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground.
  • Tighten your abdominal muscles, pushing your lower back into the floor.
  • Hold for a few seconds and then relax. Repeat.

Knee to Chest Stretch

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Grasp one knee (or both) with both hands and pull it towards your chest.
  • Hold for about 20 seconds, then gently release and switch legs.

Press-Up (Back Extension)

  • Lie on your stomach with your hands positioned under your shoulders.
  • Push down on your hands to raise your shoulders and upper back. Keep your hips grounded.
  • Hold for a few seconds and then lower back down. Repeat.

Cat-Camel Stretch (or Cat-Cow)

  • Start on your hands and knees in a tabletop position.
  • Arch your back upwards (like a cat) while exhaling, then sag it down (like a camel) while inhaling.
  • This movement should be fluid, and you should feel a stretch in both directions.


  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground.
  • Tighten your abdominal muscles and lift your hips off the floor, creating a straight line from the shoulders to the knees.
  • Hold for a few seconds, then lower your hips down gently.

Child’s Pose

  • Start on your hands and knees in a tabletop position.
  • Sit back onto your heels, reaching your arms forward and lowering your chest towards the ground.
  • Feel a stretch through your back and hold.

Hamstring Stretch

  • Sit on the ground with one leg out straight and the other bent with the foot against the inner thigh of the straight leg.
  • Reach towards the toes of the outstretched leg, feeling a stretch down the back of the leg.
  • Hold for 20-30 seconds and then switch sides.

Lateral Leg Raises

  • Lie on your side with your legs straight.
  • Lift the top leg up while keeping it straight, then lower it down slowly.
  • Switch sides after completing the set.

It’s crucial to note that while these exercises can be beneficial, they should be done under the guidance of a qualified physiotherapist or medical professional, especially when dealing with a condition like a slipped disc. The therapist can modify or suggest alternatives to ensure the exercises are safe and effective for the individual’s specific condition and recovery stage.


In managing and recovering from a slipped disc, the importance of physiotherapy cannot be overstated. With an array of manual techniques, therapeutic modalities, and targeted exercises, physiotherapy offers a holistic approach that goes beyond mere symptom relief, addressing the root cause of the issue. Exercise, in particular, plays a crucial role in strengthening the spine, improving flexibility, and fostering overall spinal health.

However, individualized guidance from a qualified physiotherapist is essential to ensure that these interventions are safe, effective, and tailored to the patient’s unique needs and recovery stage. With the right care, patients can navigate the path to recovery with confidence, regaining their quality of life. If you’re experiencing Back, Shoulder, Knee, Neck, Elbow, Hip, or Arthritis pain, a physical therapist at PhysioMantra can help: Book an online physical therapy session.