Did you get diagnosed with a herniated disc in Charleston SC? A herniated disc is when part of the disc between two vertebrae seeps out. This protrusion can put pressure on nerves and cause severe pain. It can cause symptoms running from low back pain, pain going down the leg, trouble sitting and standing, to even being so painful to move that you just want to lay down and stay there.
The main cause for a herniated disc is flexion and twisting of the lumbar spine. For example, if you bent over to pick up something and twisted to put it on the counter. If you think about the area around your disc as a compass, the Southeast and Southwest part is the most vulnerable for the disc to protrude. That’s why the twisting motion usually is what herniates the disc.
Another way that makes the disc more vulnerable to herniation is constant flexion of the lumbar spine. We as humans are constantly in a state of flexion. From curling up in a ball when are in bed, sitting at work all day, to sitting and watching tv all night. This constant flexion of the lumbar spine weakens the ligament that holds your disc in place. When this ligament is weakened you can get a disc herniation from something as simple as bending over and picking up a pencil.
So what can you do to help prevent disc herniations?
The easiest thing you can start doing is stop living life with your low back in constant flexion. So if you sit at work all day, try standing while you work. Or be more conscious of how your posture is and sit up straighter. Or get some kind of roll to put between your low back and the chair to give you a cue to stay in a better-seated position.
Another way to help prevent disc herniation is to increase your core strength. Now, this doesn’t mean doing a lot of sit-ups. As stated before, constant flexion of the spine is bad. Proper ways to strengthen your core are doing the McGill Big Three. The three exercises are the McGill curl up, Birddog, and side plank. These are scientifically proven to help strengthen your core isometrically and keep from hurting your low back.
The McGill Curl Up
To perform the McGill curl up, lay flat on your back with one leg bent by bringing the heel of your foot to your butt. Place your hands under your low back to keep the normal curve of the lumbar spine. Then brace your core and bring yourself up by barely bring your shoulder blades off the ground. Make sure you keep your spine straight. Then lower yourself back down.
To perform the Birddog start on your hands and knees. Then take your right arm and bring the left leg and start to bring them up and straighten them out. Really push toward the opposite wall. Then come back down to the start position. Make sure you alternate to get both sides.
The side plank
To perform the side plank, start on your side with your elbow underneath you. Then bring yourself up where only your feet and elbow are on the ground. Hold this position for about 10-15 seconds and then return to the starting position.
Perform all of these exercises multiple times for multiple reps and you will start to feel your core get stronger.
What if you already have a disc herniation?
If you already have a disc herniation you can still do the above exercises, but it may be hard if you are in a lot of pain. If you are one of those people in a good amount of pain you can do the McKenzie exercises.
The McKenzie exercises don’t help by strengthening the low back like the McGill exercises. They work more to try to bring the disc herniation back to its normal position. This takes the pressure off the nerve and makes you feel so much better.
When you do these exercises it creates a sort of vacuum effect to bring the disc herniation away from the nerve.
To perform the McKenzie exercise start by laying flat on the ground with your hands by your shoulders. Then push your upper body up and keep your lower body and low back flat on the ground. This is very similar to the yoga pose cobra. Breathe out when you are at the top to really feel your low back sink in. Then go back to the start position with you just laying flat on the ground.
Do this exercise multiple times and you’ll hopefully start to see your pain down your leg start to come back up and just be in the low back. This is called centralization and is a very good sign. That means that the exercises are working and you should continue doing them and you should make a great recovery.
These are just some of the things you can do to help prevent disc herniations and treat disc herniations. Although, every case is different and unique, so getting properly tested by a Doctor is recommended.