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Have bulging disc in L4. Recommended physical therapy. Safe?

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Practicing since : 2002
Answered : 2565 Questions
I have a bulging disc in L4. My neurologist has recommended physical therapy which sounds safe to me. But, I have had some well meaning friends and family that have suggested using a chiropractor. I have heard some good experience and some bad results. What are your thoughts/opinions about the risks involved? I have learned that the tingling in my feet is due to diabetic neuropathy, carpal tunnel and arthritis in my neck. They are still not sure what is causing the weakness in my left leg, even after an emg.
Posted Fri, 2 Aug 2013 in Brain and Spine
Answered by Dr. Robert Galamaga 28 minutes later
Hello and thank you for sending your question.

Your question is a very good one and I will work on providing you with some information and recommendations.

With the type of back injury that you're dealing with I would recommend physical therapy as opposed to chiropractic therapy. While chiropractic therapy is very useful and effective for certain musculoskeletal problems I believe the physical therapy provides a therapeutic advantage in the situation that you're dealing with.

Overtime we hope that the inflammation that is causing the bulging of the disc in your back will slowly improved. This should lead to gradual improvement of the weakness you are experiencing in your leg.

Surgery is a consideration but this is always a last resort if other methods do not lead to symptomatic improvement. Sometimes we use medications such as steroids to help with some of the inflammation as well. I think physical therapy is the best first option for you.

Thanks again for sending your question. Please let me know if I can be of any additional assistance.

Dr. Galamaga
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Have bulging disc in L4. Recommended physical therapy. Safe? 3 hours later
That's kind of what I thought. But my doctor said that since the bulging disc is on there right side, it should not affect the left side of my body. Do you agree?
Answered by Dr. Robert Galamaga 8 hours later
Hello again,
Classically we would expect the weakness to be on the side of the bulging disc. I do suppose that there may be some inflammation related to the disc injury that is affecting the opposite side. Time will tell - with physical therapy and perhaps medication I am optimistic that you will experience slow and steady symptomatic improvement.

Dr Galamaga
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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