Disc herniation is usually noticed only when we begin to feel pain and cramps in the neck, back, shoulders. And when the pain becomes strong and constant, then we start looking for doctors and ways to help us cope.
What is a disc herniation?
Disc herniation is a disease that affects the spine. When an intervertebral disc is overloaded, cracks may appear on its cartilaginous ring, through which the soft jelly-like mass of the disc comes out and enters the spinal canal, causing irritation to the nerve endings and causing pain and difficulty moving.
The pain that causes a disc herniation of the cervical spine is sudden and sharp and most often occurs unilaterally in the shoulder or neck.
If left untreated, the disease can cause a number of additional health problems such as immobility, paralysis, disruption in the blood supply to vital areas of the brain, changes in the diameter and elasticity of the arteries, and more.
What are the methods of non-surgical treatment?
The first thing to do if you experience such pain in the shoulders or neck is to seek qualified medical help. It is necessary to consult a neurologist to make sure that you are correctly diagnosed and that you are prescribed adequate treatment.
If your condition has not passed into the critical phase, in which your only way out is surgery, then you have several options to alleviate your condition:
* therapeutic massage;
* active rest and relaxation;
* taking analgesic medications;
* combination of healing exercises (which we will discuss in a little more detail).
What you need to know before moving on to physical therapy and exercise?
The fight against cervical discopathy is complex and is conducted on several fronts, but if the disease is in an early stage, most often specialists recommend taking appropriate analgesics and doing exercises.
Popular exercises for disc herniation of the cervical spine
Important! Do the exercises only after consulting a neurologist, and if you do not have swelling or do not feel severe and sharp pain!
# Lie on the floor with your legs straight and folded. Spread your arms out to the side, shoulder-width apart. Take a deep breath and exhale slowly, tilting your head as far as you can towards your chest. Exhale and return your head to its original position. Repeat the exercise 10 – 12 times. Do it slowly and carefully and if you feel pain stop the exercise.
# Lie on one side with your legs bent towards your chest and your arms outstretched. Take a deep breath and exhale slowly, lifting your head off the floor and tilting it toward your shoulder. Repeat the exercise 10 – 12 times. Lie on the other side and repeat again.
# Sit cross-legged on the floor. The torso should be straight, the legs should be bent “in Turkish” style. Take a deep breath and tilt your head first to the left, then to the right, up and down. Repeat 10-15 times.
# Sit on the floor, straighten your back and cross your legs in “Turkish” style. Without turning your head, look to the left, then to the right several times. Without changing your position, place one hand on your head and try to apply light pressure to it, and at the same time, try to counteract with your head. Do not press hard, perform this exercise very carefully and if you feel pain stop immediately.
# Get into an upright sitting position (on the floor or in a chair). Turn your head left and right, up and down slowly and carefully. Repeat the exercise several times.
# Stand up straight, with your legs together and your arms relaxed by your body. Carefully transfer your body weight forward to the floor. In this position, take a deep breath then exhale slowly while you return to the starting position. Do the exercise several times and relax.
# Stand straight again and tilt your body slightly to the floor. Bend your head as far as you can towards your chest and try to bring your arms as far behind your back as you can. Repeat 8-10 times.
# Sit on the floor or a chair, straighten your torso and relax your arms and shoulders. Pull your shoulders forward as far as you can, then slowly stretch them back. Repeat several times.
# Sit in a chair and place your hands palms down toward your thighs. Rotate the shoulder joints back and forth. This exercise improves blood circulation in the neck and restores mobility of the shoulder joint.
# Sit in a chair and place your palms on your thighs. Inhale and exhale several times. Raise your arms to shoulder level and hold for a few seconds. Raise your arms and try to gather your palms above your head. Hold for a few seconds and do the exercise in reverse order until your hands are in the starting position (palms on thighs).
# Get down on all fours, raise your head and look straight ahead. Slowly lower your head down until you feel a slight pressure in the area of the spine. Stay in this position as long as you can (from a few seconds to a few minutes). This exercise helps to restore flexibility and relieve the spine.
# Exercises on a Swedish wall or lever. If you have a sports center nearby or you have a Swedish wall at home, “hanging” on the wall is also very useful in cervical discopathy. No effort is required, just find the nearest Swedish wall or lever and hang for a while. Hanging helps as the back relaxes and the vertebrae move apart, releasing pinched nerves. This relieves back pain.
Exercise has proven to be one of the most effective methods for treating and relieving neck, back, and shoulder pain. However, they are most effective if performed regularly and in combination with the treatment prescribed by a specialist.
Therapeutic exercise for disc herniation of the cervical spine gives tangible results after the first week, and if done regularly, not only relieves pain but also prevents its occurrence in the future.
Of course, if the disease has reached a critical phase, therapeutic exercise will not be able to help completely, but it can still improve your condition and help you to avoid surgery.
What results can you expect from exercise if you suffer from a disc herniation of the cervical spine?
- Restoration of normal blood circulation to the spine, muscles, and nerve tissues;
- Reduction of pain in problem areas;
- Reduction or complete elimination of accompanying disc herniation symptoms such as headache, tinnitus, “tingling” pain, and tingling in the hands;
- Normalization of muscle tone;
- Full or partial restoration of hand movements;
Prevent progression of the disease.
Basic recommendations before you start exercising
If you have the opportunity, it is advisable to start the exercises under the guidance of an experienced instructor who will give you the right guidance and monitor you.
If you decide to start exercising at home, you should first consult a neurologist. Consultation is necessary to be aware of both your condition and the exercises that are right for you.
It is best to perform the exercises in the morning, with slow movements and without straining. Although, there is no compulsory time and you can choose another time to perform the set of exercises – it is important not to do them immediately after meals or at bedtime. If you feel pain, stop and consult your doctor immediately.
Do not overdo it and do not exceed the average number of repetitions of an exercise, which is 10-12 times. Avoid jumping, weight training, and twisting.
Important! Improperly selected exercises can worsen your condition instead of improving it!