Herniated discs are usually the result of disc degeneration, a gradual thinning of the cushioning between your vertebrae. However, these can also be caused by a direct injury such as a car accident, or weakness in this part of the back which could allow a disc to be herniated with something as simple as lifting a bag of groceries.
Your Physical Therapist will be able to determine what stage of the healing process the disc is in, because treatment will differ if you are in an acute vs. a chronic state. The examination will also help your PT determine if in fact the herniated disc matches the signs and symptoms the patient presents with. A thorough Neuromuscular Examination will be performed in order to determine the severity of the injury and the amount of Neural compromise/damage. If the disc is in an acute phase it is important to protect the disc to allow the body to heal the disc in as short of time as possible. If the disc is in a chronic state, then it is important to start to open the spine and progress the patient with neural mobilization, restoration of normal spinal mobility and progression of core and hip stabilization training.
Preventing a herniated disc is pretty simple! Keeping a healthy weight, having good posture, and exercising are three easy ways to decrease the pressure on and stabilize your spine.