Tips for horseback riding with a bulging disc

If horseback riding is your passion, it can be disheartening to experience the pain, tingling, numbness or muscle weakness associated with nerve compression caused by a bulging disc. Problems like joint pain or minor aches are typically nothing new for experienced riders. But nerve compression or spinal cord irritation caused by a bulging disc can become debilitating, and the constant up-and-down movement of a trotting horse may worsen symptoms.

How to engage in horseback riding if you have a bulging disc

It may seem counterintuitive, but horseback riding may actually provide benefits for those suffering from chronic back pain in some cases. A study published in the January 2009 edition of the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies recorded positive results for 24 individuals with back pain who participated in an Equine Assisted Therapy program. The physical therapists who conducted the study found that people affected by back pain experienced a reduction in symptoms and an improvement in emotional well-being.

It’s important to discuss your symptoms with your physician before resuming your normal horseback riding schedule. A bulging disc can develop into a herniated disc if proper precautions are not taken, including:

  • Strengthening the neck or back muscles in the area of the bulging disc
  • Using the right equipment, including a comfortable saddle with a deep seat and soft leather, high pommels and cantles and a thick saddle pad
  • Riding in the correct position, including proper stirrup height, toes pointed toward the horse’s ears and eyes level and straight ahead

When to consider surgery for a bulging disc

Many patients dealing with a bulging disc are able to resume normal activities by following a doctor-approved course of conservative treatments like physical therapy or medication. If you are unable to resume your normal riding habits after several weeks or months of chronic neck or back pain, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons have helped more than 75,000 people find relief from neck and back pain. The minimally invasive outpatient procedures performed at Laser Spine Institute treat the symptoms of a bulging disc on an outpatient basis and with a shorter recovery time compared to traditional open neck or back surgery.^

Our caring and dedicated team is happy to provide a no-cost MRI or CT scan review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.

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