Herniated disc — exercises to reduce pain from herniated discs
A herniated disc occurs when the spine is compressed and causes the disc in between two vertebrae to crack, leaking inner disc fluid into the spinal canal. While this condition sometimes requires spine surgery to treat, most mild cases of herniated discs can be treated through conservative methods, such as exercise and lifestyle changes.
Causes of a herniated disc
Spinal compression is the leading cause of herniated discs. Herniated discs often occur in the lumbar spine — the lower back area that is most susceptible to spinal compression. The lumbar spine is responsible for supporting most of the body’s weight. Over time, as weight gain occurs, the vertebrae of the lumbar spine become compressed, causing the vertebrae to squeeze the disc found in between the vertebrae. When the disc is squeezed too hard for too long, the hard outer shell of the disc cracks and the jellylike inner fluid leaks into the spinal canal.
If the jellylike disc fluid impacts a nerve in the spinal canal, the result can be both local and radiating pain in the back and extremities. For patients diagnosed with a herniated disc, there are several treatment options available to help you find pain relief.
Exercises to treat a herniated disc
Certain exercises can help eliminate the pain caused by a herniated disc in the neck or back by building the muscles around the spine to relieve pressure from the vertebrae of the spine. Consult your physician before you begin any exercise routine to treat your herniated disc. You should also tell your physician if you experience any pain or discomfort during or immediately after your exercises.
Some of the most effective exercises to treat a herniated disc include:
- Chest raise — Lie on the floor on your stomach. Your legs should be straight on the floor and your arms should be tucked close to your side and bent at the elbows, allowing your hands to rest directly under your shoulders. Slowly, push your chest up from the floor and rest your weight on your elbows. Keep your hips and legs pressed against the floor. This exercise will stretch the back and strengthen your core muscles to help support your spine.
- Cat and cow — This exercise combines two yoga poses to help simultaneously stretch and strengthen the back. Start on your hands and knees. Take a deep breath and lift your head and neck toward the ceiling, allowing your stomach to push down and your back to arch. Exhale and round your back upward, letting your head tilt down to look at your hands and your belly button to be raised slightly higher than your hips. Repeat this exercise 10 times.
Conservative treatment, such as exercise, can often be combined with other methods of conservative treatment, such as pain medication or chiropractic therapy. Consult your physician about how you can combine treatments to maximize your pain reduction.
Minimally invasive surgery for herniated discs
In the event that you do not find lasting pain relief from conservative treatments, you may want to consider a surgical treatment for your herniated disc.
At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive spine surgery as a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery. Depending on the severity of your herniated disc, you may be recommended to undergo a minimally invasive decompression surgery or a minimally invasive stabilization surgery. For more information about the surgical treatments we offer for a herniated disc, please contact our Care Team. We are here to help guide you to the best treatment option to help you find lasting pain relief from your herniated disc.