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Physical Therapy for Slipped Disc in the Neck

Physical Therapy for Slipped Disc in the Neck

The spinal column is made up of 26 bones (vertebrae), which are cushioned by disks. The disk protects the bones by absorbing the shocks from daily activities like walking, lifting and twisting. Each disk consists of two parts – a soft, gelatinous inner portion and a tough outer ring. Weakness or injury can cause the inner portion of the disk to protrude through the outer ring. This is known as a slipped disk or herniated disk.

In herniated disk, a crack occurs in the outer layer of the disk, called the annulus. The crack usually affects a small part of the disk, and it allows the soft inner material of the nucleus pulposus to rupture out of the disk. This causes and pain discomfort. You may experience numbness and pain along the affected nerve, if the slipped disk compresses one of your spinal nerves. You may require surgery to remove or repair the slipped disk in severe instances. Keep reading further to learn about the symptoms, causes, and treatment methods for slipped disk.


Slipped disk can occur in any part of your spine, from your neck to your lower back. The lower back is the most common area for slipped disks. The spinal column is an intricate network of nerves and blood vessels. A slipped disk can place extra pressure on the nerves and muscles around it. Symptoms of slipped disk include:

  • Pain when walking short distances
  • Unexplained muscle weakness
  • Pain that worsens after standing or sitting
  • Tingling, aching or burning sensations in the affected area
  • Paint that worsens at night
  • Pain that extends to your arms and/or legs
  • Pain and numbness, most commonly on one side of the body

Generally, the types of pain vary from person to person. It’s important to visit your physician, if your pain results in numbness or tingling that affects your ability to control your muscles.


Usually, a slipped disk occurs when the outer ring becomes weak or torn and allows the inner portion to slip out. This can happen with age. Certain strenuous motions can also cause a slipped disk. While you’re twisting or turning to lift an object, a disk can slip out of place. Lifting a very large, heavy object can place great strain on the lower back, resulting in a slipped disk. You may be at an increased risk for slipped disks, if you have a physically demanding job that requires a lot of lifting.

Individuals who are overweight are also at increased risk for a slipped disk because their disks must support the additional weight. A sedentary lifestyle and weak muscles may also contribute to development of a slipped disk. Slipped disks are more common in men than women.


From conservative to surgical, the treatment methods differ according to its severity. The treatment typically depends on the level of discomfort you are experiencing and how far the disk has slipped out of place.

Physiotherapists advice that most patients can relieve slipped disk pain using an exercise program that stretches and strengthens the back and surrounding muscles. A physical therapist may recommend exercises that can strengthen your back while reducing your pain.

Try to remain as active as possible through stretching or low impact activities such as walking, as inactivity can lead to muscle loss and joint stiffness. In much severe cases, your doctor may replace the disk with an artificial one or remove the disk and fuse your vertebrae together. 

Physiotherapy is quite necessary and beneficial for patients suffering a slipped disk in their necks. It may not be possible to completely prevent a slipped disk, but you can always take steps to reduce your risk of developing a slipped disk. Some steps include – maintaining a healthy weight, not to remain seated for long periods, stretching of the back and neck muscles is crucial and using safe lifting techniques such as bending and lifting from your knees, not your waist. It also important to perform exercises to strengthen the muscles in your back, neck, legs, and abdomen. If you or someone you know has been experiencing neck or back pain since many years and is above the age of 35 years, it is possible that a slipped disk may be causing pain. Get in touch with professional physiotherapists in Edmonton, and they will devise a specific plan for the patient to help them get rid of the pain and difficulties.