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Physical Rehabilitation for Herniated Disc

October 19, 2022
Physical Rehabilitation for Herniated Disc
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After being diagnosed with a herniated disc by your doctor, if therapy has been deemed appropriate, it is important to find a physical therapist experienced in treating this type of condition.

When you are enrolled in physical therapy, your sessions with the physical therapist will have several specific goals. First, you will be given an exercise program to help relieve pressure on any compressed spinal nerves based on your directional preference.

Next, core stabilization exercises are typically prescribed by physical therapists to help stabilize your spinal column. Aerobic conditioning is added to help with your endurance. Lastly, a variety of physical therapy techniques recommended by the physical therapist will help improve your overall flexibility. Passive treatment techniques relax your body and include manual therapy, hot and cold therapy, electrical stimulation (e.g., TENS), and hydrotherapy.

In general, receiving physical therapy, pain medication, and education about your diagnosis has been as effective as surgery in treating herniated disc pain after 3 months.

Physical therapists help improve the quality of life through hands-on care, patient education, and prescribed movement. Contact your physical therapist at Palm Wellness Center for a diagnosis and professional medical advice.

The Objective of Exercises

Conservative treatments such as gentle exercises, proper body mechanics, and physical activity can help relieve disc herniation pain. The following exercises can also strengthen and improve spine, neck, and back flexibility, providing effective pain relief:

Exercise 1: Prone Extension

To do the prone extension exercise:

  1. Begin by lying on your stomach for 5 minutes. If this exercise is helpful, this position should reduce pain in your legs.
  2. Once in proper form, prop yourself up on your elbows. Hold this pose for up to 5 minutes.
  3. The technique can be improved by pressing your upper body off the ground with your arms. Complete 3-5 sets of 10 press-ups if you can.

While this exercise may cause some low back soreness, it should not worsen your leg symptoms.

Exercise 2: Dying Bug

To do the dying bug exercise:

  1. Lie flat on your back with bent knees, arms at your sides, and feet flat on the floor.
  2. Contract your core muscles, so your lower back is flat against the ground.
  3. Keeping your abdominals tight and knees bent, lift one leg several inches off the floor, hold the position for 5 seconds, then lower it.
  4. Then, alternately lift your arms overhead and back to your side.
  5. Continue to cycle between your arms and legs.
  6. Complete 3 sets of 5 repetitions daily.

Exercise 3: Standing Row

To do the standing row exercise:

  1. Secure a resistance band in a door, and hold on to each end of the band in your hands.
  2. With your arms on your side, gently pull backward on the band with both hands as you squeeze your shoulder blades together.
  3. Keep your shoulders from shrugging, and don’t crane your neck forward as you complete this motion.
  4. Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions of the rows daily.

Exercise 4: Bird Dog

To do this exercise:

  1. Begin on your hands and knees. Squeeze your stomach muscles, so your low back is flat like a tabletop.
  2. Keeping your pelvis from tilting, raise one arm over your head as you extend the opposite leg behind you.
  3. Hold this position for 5-10 seconds before returning to the original position and repeating with the opposite extremities.
  4. Try 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions daily.

Exercise 5: Cat/Cow (Cat/Camel)

To do this exercise:

  1. Start with your hands below your shoulders and your knees below your hips.
  2. Arch your upper back while bringing your head to your chest.
  3. Return to the original position, and immediately arch your lower back, so your stomach comes toward the floor while raising your head at the same time.
  4. Do this for 2-3 minutes.

Exercise 6: Bridging

To do this exercise:

  1. Start by lying with bent knees and both feet placed on the floor with arms at your sides.
  2. Tighten your abdominal muscles by drawing your belly button in toward your cervical spine.
  3. While keeping the stomach tight, raise your hips off the surface by squeezing your gluteal muscles.
  4. Try to bring the hips up as far as possible while maintaining the abdominal contraction.
  5. Return to starting position.
  6. Do this for 2-3 minutes.

Exercise 7: Standing Thoracic Extensions

To do this exercise:

  1. Begin standing with both your hands resting on a wall with your arms straight.
  2. With your hands in the same place and slowly bending forward, drop your chest to the ground with your feet remaining flat on the ground to get a stretch across your shoulders and down the hamstrings.
  3. Do this for 10-15 repetitions.

Call Palm Wellness to Schedule Your Rehabilitation Session

If you suffer from herniated discs and any of these exercises make the pain worse, it is important to stop doing them immediately to prevent further injury. Schedule a physical exam appointment with our doctor at Palm Wellness Center. Schedule your disc herniation treatment appointment at (813) 443-5370 or visit our website at www.palmwellness.center.

What is a Herniated Disk?

A herniated disk or a slipped disk occurs when some soft jelly at the center of the intervertebral discs slides out past the tough exterior. It can be very painful and may cause:

  • back pain
  • neck pain
  • shooting arm pain
  • leg pain
  • muscle spasms
  • tingling, numbness, or weakness in the leg or foot
  • tingling, numbness, or weakness in one arm

People who suffer from disc herniation don’t usually need surgery. Doctors often recommend physical therapy for disc herniation symptom relief.

Any spinal disc can slip, including the neck, but most commonly, it occurs in the lower part of the back. Doing exercises and undergoing physical therapy can help, depending on the location of the herniated disk in the spine.

Common Causes of Herniated Disk

Lumbar disc herniation is most often the result of gradual, aging-related wear and tear called disk degeneration. As people age, the spinal discs become brittle and at increased risk of tearing or rupturing with even a minor strain or twist.

Most people can’t point out the cause of their disc herniations. People who are physically active tend to use their back muscles to lift heavy objects. This can cause pain in the joints due to herniated disks. Poor posture and stress can also cause disc herniation.

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