Exercise And Stretches To Relieve Herniated Disc Pain
If you are suffering from a herniated disc, consulting your treating clinician before beginning any new stretching or exercises is imperative. You may risk additional injury without approval and proper instruction. Exercises and stretches should be avoided during the acute stage of a herniated disc.
Sometimes intervention with a is required before exercise, says Dr. Mikulsky. However, once the steroids are administered, exercise is critical in preventing the nerve root from being impacted again.
Once the proper clinical considerations have been addressed, gentle exercises and stretches can help ease the pain and other symptoms of a herniated disc. When you strengthen your back and hamstring muscles, pressure on the spinal column is eased, which helps to prevent pain. Exercise also helps prevent further injury and pain, and promotes healing by:
Increased blood flow to the spine to help heal the injury
Building strength in the support muscles for the spine
Improving abnormal postures related to pain
Dont avoid exercises after a herniated disc diagnosis. The sooner you start stretching and exercising, the better prognosis , with your physicians approval. For safety, start out designing a daily small exercise routine from the below choices and slowly build up to more intense exercises as tolerated by your body. As a general rule, avoid the BLTs .
If any of the following exercises or stretches cause pain, stop immediately and consult your physician or treating clinician.
Tips To Avoid A Herniated Disc: Minimizing The Risks
The spine is made up of a series of vertebrae cushioned by discs. When a disc is injured or deteriorating due to disease or aging, it can lead to a herniated disc. There are ways to avoid developing this condition with exercise, taking precautions and making lifestyle changes.
Laying Prone On Your Elbows
Start in a face-down, prone position on a firm surface. Place a soft flat pillow under your hips and abdomen if needed. Push up onto your forearms without raising your hips. Dont strain! Hold for up to 30 seconds, and then slowly lower yourself back to starting position. Aim to work up to 10-15 repetitions and 2-3 sets with rests in between.
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Neck Stretches To Relieve Pain
Stretching may benefit people with a bulging or herniated disc. Just remember that stretching should not increase pain. If pain increases with stretching, stop immediately.
For example, if a stretch causes a shooting pain down your shoulder and arm, dont perform the stretch. The goal of stretching is to relieve pain, not increase it.
Lower Back Disc Bulges
A disk bulge or herniated disc occurs when some of the soft jelly in the centre of the disc slips out past the tough exterior.
Up to 80% of individuals will suffer from an episode of back pain during their lifetime, currently Low back pain accounts for 11% of the total disability of the UK population and disc bulges/herniation is frequently the underlying cause. The highest prevalence of disc bulges is among people aged 30-50, with a male to female ratio of 2:1. In people aged 25-55 years, 95% of disc bulges occur at the lower levels of the lumbar spine, disc bulges from mid to upper lumber spine are more common in those over the age of 55. Disc bulges are most common in the lower back but can occur anywhere from the neck to the low back.
Symptoms of a disc bulge/herniation:
Loss of Bowel or Bladder control
4 Stages of Disc Bulge:
How can exercise help?
Exercise and Physical Therapy are often the most important parts of recovery from a herniated disc.
Doing gentle activities and exercises will strengthen the muscles that support the spine and reduce pressure on the spinal column. They will also promote flexibility in the spine and may help reduce the risk of a herniated disc from reoccurring.
Gentle activities that can help are
Perform all exercises in a slow and controlled manner, especially when bending or lifting. If a person feels pain, they should stop doing the exercises and speak with your Osteopath.
How Long Does the Pain Last?
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Single Leg Raises For The Lower Abdominal Muscles
Start by lying on the back and tightening the stomach muscles.
- Slowly raise one leg 8 to 12 inches from the floor, without bending the knee.
- Keep the low back and opposite leg flat against the floor. Hold leg raise for 8 to 10 seconds, then slowly lower to starting position.
As strength builds, aim to complete 2 sets of 10 lifts.
If performing these exercises is painful, water therapy may be considered as an alternate option. The buoyancy water provides support, which in turn minimizes the pain. Water exercises can be particularly beneficial in strengthening the lower abdominal and hip muscles.
Read more about Abdominal Exercises
Nerve mobilization and glide exercises aim to relieve nerve tension and make the nerve more flexible.9 For sciatic nerve mobilization, follow these steps:
- Sit upright on a chair and lift one leg to straighten the knee, while keeping the other foot flat on the floor.
- Slowly bend the ankle so that the toes are pointing upward.
- Continue to bend the ankle back and forth, pointing the toes upward and outward.
- As tolerated, to put more tension on the sciatic nerve, try the same nerve glide with the head bent forward, bringing the chin towards the chest.
- Pump the ankle up and down 15 to 20 times and then repeat the exercise with the other leg.
Aim to complete 3 rounds for each leg, twice a day.
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Prone Arm And Leg Lifts
This exercise strengthens the back, abdominal, trunk, and hip muscles.
- In the prone position with the head and chest lowered to the floor, slowly raise an arm and the opposite leg, 2 to 3 inches from the floor, without bending the knee.
- Begin by holding the position for 5 seconds.
Complete 8 to 10 repetitions. As strength builds, aim to hold the position for 20 seconds.
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Tests To Identify A Lumbar Disc Problem
In addition to noting where your symptoms are, your health practitioner should also perform:
1. A full neurological examination, which includes a screen of isolated muscles, sensations, and reflexes.
2. Nerve tension tests, usually a straight leg raise test or the crossed straight leg raise test.
Only if your health practitioner is not able to identify what is going on, would I recommend imaging tests such as MRI. While MRIs can be helpful, keep in mind that they are expensive, and often unnecessary in treating disc herniations.
What Are The Causes
Discs can bulge or herniate because of injury and improper lifting or can occur spontaneously. Aging plays an important role. As you get older, your discs dry out and become harder. The tough fibrous outer wall of the disc may weaken. The gel-like nucleus may bulge or rupture through a tear in the disc wall, causing pain when it touches a nerve. Genetics, smoking, and a number of occupational and recreational activities may lead to early disc degeneration.
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How Common Are Schmorls Nodes
Schmorls nodes are quite common. They are frequently observable in lumbar spine MRIs, particularly in males.
According to a 2019 paper, Schmorls nodes may be present in up to 76% of the general population. However, their prevalence is highly variable, with some research suggesting that far fewer people develop Schmorls nodes than this.
How To Prevent Herniated Disc Issues
Herniated discs develop for reasons that include injury and disease. However, a top reasons is also aging. The spines supporting structures and discs weaken due to aging, leading to discs that are more prone to tearing or rupturing with even small twisting movements or when lifting items.
Most herniated discs occur in the neck and lower back regions of the spine. However, they can happen anywhere along the spine. To understand how to avoid herniated disc problems, look to the primary causes of this condition as a guide. For example, lifting heavy items puts pressure on the spine, especially the lower back, so learning proper lifting posture can reduce the risk of developing a herniated disc.
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Some Of The Exercises That Can Help Reduce Back Pain
You dont have to undergo an intense cardio program or get to lift very heavy weights-aerobics, and simple stretching exercises can be very effective in controlling your herniated disc pain.
Your herniated disc may have been caused as a result of excessive hyperlordosis or even the extensions in your lower back. We have poses like cobra and Superman that hurt more. These simple exercises exacerbate and repeat those same motions which cause injury in the end.
The stretching programs such as Yoga and Pilates can improve the strength and flexibility, and thus offer some relief to acute pain in your lower back and pain.
Flexing and twisting muscles help to provide temporary relief since they reduce some of the muscular tensions around the injury area and maybe create some bit of decompression, but this is only temporary.
A good way of strengthening your core is by not trying to directly extend your back muscles or stretching forward. Working to hold onto your pelvis level andkeeping your core stable will help greatly in reducing the tension of your lower back and hopefully keeping you from the hyper-extending as much.
The doctor can also recommend dynamic lumbar stabilizing exercises. This is a program that involves exercises which work on back and abdominal muscles so as to address flexibility, posture, and strength.
How Much Does Physical Therapy Cost For A Herniated Disc In The Neck
Analyzing the cost of physical therapy can be challenging. Insurance reimbursement varies depending on insurance coverage and the location where the service is delivered. Most policies have unique co-pays, deductibles, and out-of-pocket amounts that can significantly impact the amount billed.
To help find appropriate therapy care that is both in network and cost effective, be sure to contact your insurance provider. Many clinics and hospitals have billing resources listed on their website to help estimate the cost. Self-pay plans or discounts may be available for individuals who are in financial need or who are uninsured.
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People At Risk Of Disc Herniations
Individuals may be at increased risk for a herniated disc if they often turn or twist their backs while lifting objects, if they use tobacco, or have poor posture . Therapists often encounter clients with these issues if they are overweight, may have weak muscles , and/or a sedentary lifestyle. Herniated discs are most common in early to middle-aged adults .
Should I just lay in bed and wait it out? How can exercise help?
For some people, laying in bed is the only thing they feel they can do in that moment and any movement might cause too much pain. In this case, we strongly recommend you see your GP or physio as soon as youre able.
If there are movements that you *can* do that feel better than others , then place yourself in these postures when possible, while feeling immobilized. As soon as you can do small movements that dont cause issues, take your time to increase those movements and get to your health care professionals office .
If you have been diagnosed with a disc herniation and your GP or physio has recommended that you get moving then *specific types* exercises will be helpful . Jumping on your favourite rowing machine, getting back to those deadlifts or starting your daily burpee challenge might not be such a great idea right now. More than likely, your body will tell you this then second you slip on your runners. But just in casewe thought wed tell you.
Symptoms Of Herniated Lumbar Disc:
Lower back pain Leg pain Leg numbness or tingling Pain is worse from sitting Restricted trunk flexionSciatica pain
Please note, a herniated disc DOESNT always cause pain, so you must get a proper diagnosis.
What does a herniated disc feel like?
Lower back pain is typically the first symptom of a lumbar disc herniation. Often this pain will last for a few days and then subside, but leg pain, numbness or tingling, and/or weakness of the lower extremity often follows.
Typically the leg pain eventually travels below the knee and can even affect the ankle and foot.
How long does the pain last?
Most patients with a lumbar disc herniation will improve gradually over a period of days to weeks, with most patients being symptom free within 3 to 4 months.
Patients that actively participate in an exercise program often report a significant reduction of pain and improved ability to perform their activities of daily living.
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Standing Heel Drop Test:
As with the seated compression tests, pain during any of these tests indicates that you need to avoid activities that may put you into these positions. Avoiding these positions, especially while under load or during dynamic movements such as running, will expedite the healing process. Experiencing pain while your chin is tucked down but not while tilted back indicates nerve stress and tells you that proper neck posture should be your focus during rehabilitation. Think about changing your daily life to accommodate better posture . Find a position by either bracing the core and/or the shoulders that reduces your pain sensitivity. If you find that bracing helps with the pain, then bracing is what you must focus on during movements of daily life and during workouts.
Prior To Exercise Control The Pain
Prior to exercising, youll want to minimize the pain that you experience. For most people with herniated discs, lightly extending the back can help to reposition the discs anteriorly.
Try laying prone on your elbows to see if it alleviates your pain . Its important to relax and breathe normally. If this position feels good, you can even straighten your arms into the prone press up .
At this stage, consider modalities and only very light movements to maintain blood flow and to control pain. Returning to light activity can actually speed up your recovery, since light loads can speed up the early healing process. That being said, you must be careful not to push yourself to hard too soon. Heavy loads have been shown to have the opposite effect, decreasing blood flow in the spine and possibly impairing proteoglycan synthesis, which is critical for the normal function of your discs.
Start with walking, and gradually incorporate the following exercises in phase order.
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Exercise #: Hip Hinge
Especially if you want to return to weight lifting, its imperative that you practice moving and bending from your hips without movement in your lumbar spine. If youre not sure if youre keeping your spine neutral, try putting a piece of tape along your low back or holding a dowel against your head, upper back, and tailbone.
When standing straight up, you should have a slight curve in your low-back. If you bend your back at all while doing the hip hinge, youll either feel the tape pull or lose the dowel from one of these three points of contact. Your goal, especially when you lift weights, is to move from your hips, and not from your spine.
First, perform the hip hinge in the quadruped position. Once youve mastered that, do a standing hip hinge.
Its critical that you understand how to move from your hips while stabilizing your spine before returning to bodyweight squats, deadlifts, and rows.
Is A Herniated Disc The Root Of Your Back Pain
A herniated disc or back pain refers to an issue with one of the rubbery cushions that are in between the vertebrae. A spinal disc has a soft jellylike interior with a tougher exterior.
Strange neck pains, back pains, or extremity symptoms can indicate a variety of potential problems including one or more herniated discs. How can you tell for sure whether you have this specific problem? If you do have a herniated disc, what can you do about it? These questions dont have to add confusion and frustration to your physical woes.
Fortunately, if your back pain is caused by a herniated disc, physical therapy can help. Contact Willow Physical Therapy Clinic today to learn more.
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What Are The Complications
Lumbar disc herniation is very dangerous that it can cause permanent weakness or paralysis. Sometimes, it can press the whole spine nerve system that can lead to these dangerous situations. One should seek for the treatment if
- Symptoms worsen The type of pain that can cause restricted movement of the body or may hamper the daily life activities.
- Bladder or bowel dysfunction Difficulty in urinating.
- Saddle anesthesia It is the kind of symptom that can cause a spinal block. It can manifest anesthesia to the lower part of the body i.e. legs and thighs.
Common Symptoms Of A Herniated Disc
While most herniated discs occur in the lower back, they also can occur in the cervical area. Symptoms are dependent on where the disc is located and whether or not its compressing a nerve.
Typically, one side of the body is affected. You may experience arm or leg pain, tingling or numbness or weakness. If the herniated disc is located in the back, youll likely experience pain in the buttocks, thigh and calf.
If its located in the neck, youll likely experience pain in the arm and shoulder. The pain with a herniated disc can be sharp. Pain, numbness and tingling can radiate to other parts of the body, too.
Keep in mind that you can have a herniated disc with no symptoms.
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