If you are suffering from back or neck pain due to a slipped or herniated disc, your first inclination may be to rest as much as possible, to avoid pain and further damage. Yet exercise is one of the best treatment strategies for joint and disc pain. When performed correctly, specific exercises can take pressure off your nerves and give you relief from pain and stiffness.
Understanding Herniated Discs
Discs function like shock absorbers between the vertebrae of your spine. Each disc is made up of two parts, a tough outer ring, and a soft, gel-like inner portion. Several things can cause the inner portion of the disk to protrude through the outer ring, irritating your nerves with pressure and inflammation, and causing pain to radiate along the length of the nerve. This is known as a slipped, herniated, or prolapsed disc.
Herniated discs are most commonly seen in the lumbar spine (low back) and the cervical spine (neck). However, discs sometimes herniate in the thoracic spine as well. Because neural bodies can be quite long, pain may radiate some distance from the site of herniation, as with sciatic nerve pain that can radiate from your low back, all the way down your leg.
Some common causes of disc herniation include:
- Poor postural habits
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Inefficient lifting technique
- Imbalanced muscle tone
- Overweight and obesity
- Poor physical condition
Your muscles provide support for your spinal column, pulling against one another to hold your spine erect and maintain optimal space between vertebrae. When muscles in your upper back, trunk and pelvis are too lax or too tight, they can pull with uneven tension, causing your discs to become compressed, and leading to herniation.
Your leg muscles may also play a role in disc herniation. Because your joints form a kinetic chain, weak and tight muscles from your feet all the way to your hips and pelvis can affect your posture while standing and walking, placing pressure on your discs.
Exercise for Herniated Discs
Because muscle tension has a lot to do with spinal health, stretching and strengthening exercises are the best treatment for disc herniation. Exercise can relieve pressure on your discs by increasing the distance between vertebrae and restoring your body to optimal postural alignment.
Your therapist may recommend exercises such as:
- Swimming, biking or other light aerobic exercise
- Stretches for the legs, pelvis, trunk and chest
- Strengthening exercises for the core and pelvic floor
- Dynamic range of motion exercises
- Resistance exercises geared to correcting posture
If you spend long hours sitting at a desk, hovering over a computer screen, your therapist may prescribe strategies for more efficient spinal alignment that reduces pressure on the discs of your cervical spine.
Herniated Disc Treatment at Physical Therapy Brooklyn
If you are suffering from back pain, do not allow it to continue. Contact the back pain specialists at Physical Therapy Brooklyn, and let us put you on the road to recovery. Our expert team of therapists will diagnose your condition and recommend an individualized treatment protocol of exercise and other interventions to relieve pain and promote healing.