Experiencing pain or other symptoms without knowing the cause can be frustrating. A herniated disc is something that many people overlook. The spinal column is made up of a series of bones (vertebrae) stacked onto each other. The bones are cushioned by discs which protect them by absorbing the shocks from daily activities such as walking, lifting and twisting. A slipped disc occurs when the soft inner portion of a disc protrudes through the outer ring as a result of injury or weakness. This is known as a slipped, herniated or prolapsed disc.
This injury causes pain, discomfort, and may even cause numbness along the affected nerve, but most who experience these symptoms have no idea that they may have slipped a disc.
- Pain and numbness, most commonly on one side of the body
- Pain extended to the arms and legs
- Pain that worsens at night or with certain movements
- Pain that worsens after sitting or standing
- Pain when walking short distances
- Unexplained muscle weakness
- Tingling, aching or burning sensations in the affected area
What Causes Slipped Discs?
As you get older, you are more likely to experience a slipped disc, as they begin to lose some of their protective water content with age. Overweight individuals are at an increased risk for a slipped disc because their discs must support the additional weight they are holding. Weak muscles due to a sedentary lifestyle, or lifting large, heavy objects or having a physically demanding job can also lead to a slipped disc.
A slipped disc can be identified through an X-ray, CT scan or MRI scan. Treatment depends on the level of discomfort you’re experiencing and how far the disc has slipped out of place. Most people can relieve slipped disc pain using an exercise program that strengthens muscles to reduce pain.
Herniated Disc Exercises for the Neck
1. Shoulder Retraction
Sit or stand with your back to a wall and your arms by your sides. Bend your elbows at 90-degree angles, bring your shoulders down and back so that the back of your arms push toward the wall. Squeeze your shoulder blades together.
2. Neck Extension
Lie on your back on a table or bed, and line the bottom of your neck up with the edge. Slowly lower your head backward and let it hang. Hold this position for 1 minute, then let it rest for 1 minute. Repeat this 5-15 times.
3. Isometric Hold
Sit up tall, relax your shoulders and put a hand on your forehead. Press your head into your hand without moving your head. Hold for 5-15 seconds and repeat 15 times.
4. Lateral Bend
Sit up tall with your shoulders relaxed and slowly tilt your head to one side, as if to touch your ear to your shoulder. Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat 3-5 times each day.
5. Scalene Stretch
Sit in a chair with your shoulders relaxed, and place one hand on the back of your head. Slowly tilt your head to look at your armpit at a 45-degree angle. Hold for 30 seconds, rest and repeat 3-5 times each day.
Herniated Disc Exercises for the Back
1. Sphinx Yoga Pose
Lie on your stomach and push the upper half of your body up, resting on your elbows. Hold for 1-2 seconds and repeat 6-8 times every few hours.
2. Standing Extension
Stand straight up, place your hands on your hips with your fingers facing down, and push your hands in so that your back arches without using your lower back. Hold for 1-2 seconds and repeat 6-8 times every 2 hours.
3. Yoga Cobras
Lie on your stomach with your hands underneath your shoulders and your legs spread apart. Press up until your lower back stops you or your elbows are straight. Hold for 1-2 seconds and repeat 6-8 times every 2 hours.
4. The Cat-Cow
Rest on all fours and let your belly hang downward while curving your back. Exhale and arch your back as far as it will go, bending your neck downward.
5. Bird Dog
On all fours, lift one arm while lifting the opposite leg so they are parallel with your back. Do 3 sets of 10 reps, then switch sides.
Remember, yoga is for everyone!
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