Treating Discogenic Back Pain

The spine acts as a pillar of stability and support for our body. The discs in the spine help the vertebrae absorb shock, and when the discs wear down over time, persistent pain can occur in the back or neck. If you are trying to navigate your daily life with back pain, it’s hard to get through the simplest tasks without interruption. At Island Sports Physical Therapy, we provide our patients with compassionate care to help them overcome their back pain and injuries. Please continue reading to learn more about how we treat discogenic back pain. 

What is Discogenic Back Pain?

Lower back pain related to the discs in the spine is a prevalent issue. The lower spine contains five vertebrae with soft discs in between to cushion the vertebrae. Every disc is composed of an outer ring that surrounds a soft center. The discs consist predominantly of water during our youth, but as we age, these discs lose their hydration and become more susceptible to damage. Discogenic back pain is the result of the degeneration of the intervertebral discs in the lower back. Disc degeneration is one of the leading causes of acute and chronic pain in the lower back. The pain can occur spontaneously or as a result of an activity. Some of the symptoms of discogenic back pain include:

  • Lower back pain.
  • Muscle spasms. 
  • Pain radiating to the buttocks, thighs, or groin. 
  • Pain that worsens when bending, sitting, or standing but is relieved by lying down. 
  • Pain when lifting. 

In most cases, these symptoms are linked to long-term activities that increase the force on the intervertebral discs. Over time, these activities can cause the discs to become compromised. If more than three discs are compromised, it is referred to as degenerative disc disease. Discogenic pain irritates the nerves in the outer rings of the covering of the intervertebral disc. Pinpointing the direct source of your pain can be challenging, but the source of your pain will determine the treatment you receive. 

Treating Discogenic Back Pain

In some cases, discogenic low back pain can come and go or subside on its own. The first line of treatment typically involves conservative care. These treatments can include anti-inflammatory medications, ice or heat therapy, and physical therapy. Physical therapy can be an effective tool in treating and managing pain associated with this condition. The team at Island Sports Physical Therapy will evaluate your unique situation and develop an individualized back exercise program. Implementing back exercises into your routine can prevent lower back pain and reduce the duration and severity of flare-ups. The primary goal of physical therapy is to help patients remain active participants in their life roles and activities. The treatment program for discogenic back pain may include:

  • Strengthening Exercises – Building and maintaining strong trunk muscles can provide support and stability for your spinal joints. Strengthening the muscles and joints in the arms and legs can also take some of the load off of the spinal joints. 
  • Flexibility and Stretching – Pain in the lower back can lead to stiffness. A physical therapist will teach you exercises to improve the flexibility and range of motion in the muscles and joints of the spine, which can lead to pain relief. 
  • Aerobic Exercise – Incorporating regular aerobic exercise into your daily life can relieve pain, promote a healthy weight, and improve your overall mobility and strength. Walking and swimming are great low-impact exercises you can try to get moving. 

Physical therapy may sound like a lot of exercises, but other treatments may be involved in your program. Manual therapy is often used to improve mobility in tight muscles and stiff joints that are contributing to your symptoms. Sometimes improper body mechanics and posture can contribute to lower back pain, so your therapist can show you how to modify your environment and posture to relieve pain. 

Contact ISPT

At Island Sports Physical Therapy, our team never utilizes a one-size-fits-all approach to physical therapy. If you are dealing with discogenic back pain, our team will carefully evaluate your condition and provide you with quality care to get you back to a pain-free life. Contact us today to schedule an appointment! 


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