Back pain can occur for many reasons. It can be caused by an injury or from improper lifting techniques. As well as an underlying condition like arthritis and herniated discs, back pain can also be caused by these conditions. Research has shown that 20 percent of all 1000 adults suffer from pain related to herniated discs. This is a quick guide that will help you to reduce the risk of developing herniated discs.
What is a herniated disc?
What is a herniated disc? Let’s start with your spine. Your spine is composed of vertebrae which are small bones. A small cushion or disc is located between each vertebra. The disc acts as a shock absorber in your spine and is composed of a gel-like nucleus, and an outer layer known as the annulus.
When the gel-like nucleus of the disc protrudes from a disc tear, it is called a herniated disc. The gel-like center can bulge out and press on your spine nerves, causing pain, discomfort, tingling and even numbness. This condition may also be called slipped discs or bulged discs or ruptured discs. Although herniated discs may occur due to wear and tear, you can reduce your chances by following these five tips.
Regular exercise is a great way to reduce back pain, particularly if you have slipped discs. Your back will be supported more if you strengthen your core muscles. A strong core can reduce the likelihood of disc herniation.
Tip: Swimming, cycling, and walking are all good options to lose weight. A healthy weight is important for a healthy spine.
Safe lifting is a good idea
Safe lifting techniques should be followed, no matter if you are lifting groceries or heavy boxes. You can put too much strain on your spine by lifting without turning or improper lifting. These are some safe lifting tips:
- Lifting weights should not be done while bent.
- Lift your legs and squat to get up.
- If possible, get a friend
- Do not hold items too close to your body.
A dolly is a great option for awkwardly shaped or heavy items to reduce back strain.
Good posture is key
Bad posture can lead to lower back pain, regardless of whether you are standing or sitting. These tips will help you improve your posture to keep your spine happy and healthy.
- Standing, align your shoulders over your hips.
- Keep your chin parallel with the floor
- Avoid sitting down, especially when you are seated at your computer.
- Place your feet flat on a hard surface and bend your knees at 90 degrees.
Consider making some changes to your home office if you are working from home. Adjust your computer monitor to eye-level by using a lumbar support chair. Twisting to view the screen can cause back pain.
Rethink your sleeping habits
Although we have just discussed posture, good posture is important even when you are sleeping. Your spine and cervical spine are put under too much stress by sleeping on your stomach, especially if you sleep on your stomach. These tips will help you improve your posture when sleeping.
- You can sleep on your side or back.
- To keep your spine neutral, place a pillow between your legs (for side or back sleepers), or under your knees (for side sleepers).
- Use a firm mattress
- Mattresses that are old and worn out can be replaced
You don’t need to be a good sleeper. These habits are good for your hips and shoulders, but also your hips and joints.
Say no to cigarettes
Although smoking is well-known for its effects on lung health, did you know that it can also impact your spinal health? Research shows that back pain is more common in those who smoke cigarettes.
Exercises to Avoid for Herniated Discs and Bulging Discs
Regular exercise is a good way to reduce the chance of developing a herniated disc. However, once you have one, there are certain exercises that you should avoid. Avoid exercises that cause the neck to bend, or other misalignment of the spine. Also avoid those that place excessive pressure on the spine.
These are the exercises you should avoid:
Sit-ups can be difficult to do correctly. They are not recommended for people with herniated discs due to the pressure on the lower back. Avoid Sit-ups if you have a herniated disc. They can cause serious damage.
Gentle exercises are important as they strengthen the back muscles and increase flexibility. Swimming, yoga, gentle stretches, stretching that don’t round the neck and back, walking, cycling, and other gentle exercises are all good options.
To squat, one must lean forward and lower down until the thighs touch the ground. This can cause extreme pressure to the spine, which can result in intense pain in the lumbar area and hyperextend the spine. Squats for people with a herniated disc can cause severe pain and should be avoided.
Avoid forward-leaning movements during any exercise. A herniated disc can be exacerbated by poor posture and long-distance riding. Walking or hiking is a safer and more effective way to exercise with a herniated disc. Walking or hiking is a safer, lower-body exercise that doesn’t place undue pressure on your spine.
Standing Hamstring Stretch
Standing hamstring stretching requires that a person raise their leg off a surface and lean forward. The pressure on herniated discs will increase if the spine curves forward by leaning forward.
Deadlifts should be avoided as they are one of the most difficult bulging disc exercises. If done wrongly, deadlifts can cause ligament and muscle tears and put a lot of strain on the spine. To avoid aggravating disc injuries, you should not deadlift.
Aerobic Exercise with High Impact
It is important to be able to quickly transition between moves in high-impact aerobic activity. Jumping and other plyometric exercises can lead to back strain and injury. Instead, look for high-impact aerobic exercise and plyometric alternatives.
A leg press is a position where a person lies down on their back, with their knees close together. Then they push up against the weights to round out their spine. Although this is a great exercise move, it can be dangerous for people with herniated discs.
Straight Leg Raises
Straight leg raises can put too much pressure on your spine and cause lower back pain for people with injuries. Lunges are a safer way to exercise your legs if you have a herniated disc.
Ways to Prevent Re-Herniating a Disc
You can prevent flare-ups or re-herniations by staying physically active. These options are not quick fixes and will not protect your spine. These include:
- Avoid lifting heavy objects and lifting incorrectly. This is a difficult suggestion for workers who do a lot of manual labor. However, it’s easy for many patients to avoid lifting heavy objects. You should never re-herniated discs. Your legs will take most of the strain.
- When sitting, standing, or walking, don’t slump your back. Poor posture puts additional pressure on your discs.
- Do not sleep on your stomach. Are you wondering how to sleep with a herniated disc? Medical professionals recommend sleeping on your stomach with a pillow under the knees or on your side. Your back may be strained if you sleep on your stomach.
- Flats are better than high heels. Veritas Health says high heels can “disrupt your natural curvature by shifting your weight forward.” This can put more stress on your lower back.
- Keep your weight down. A healthy weight can reduce compression and prevent further injury.
- Stop smoking. Global Spine published a study that examined the cases of almost 1,400 patients who had to have lumbar disc surgery. It also examined those who needed recurrent lumbar disc herniation. The most significant factor in the need for additional spinal surgery, according to the authors, was smoking.
Debunking Myths About Disc Herniation
The myths surrounding herniated discs are similar to the idea that a flu shot will cure you. A piece of gum left in your stomach can cause the flu for years. These myths include:
- Each damaged disc can cause serious medical problems. Patients can suffer from serious problems if their discs are in danger of re herniating. Each case is unique, so you shouldn’t assume the worst.
- Excruciating pain can result from compressed nerves. Yes, it is possible to feel some discomfort when you pinch a nerve. It can sometimes be very painful, but it is not always. Some people report more severe irritations in their feet or legs. This pain is usually manageable.
- One spinal surgery leads to another. This article aims to highlight the fact that you can avoid re-herniating discs after injuring them once. This is not a set and forget rule. It is possible that a herniated disc will require additional surgery, but this is not a set-in-stone rule.
- Surgery is always recommended by spine surgeons. Contrary to popular belief, surgeons do not always recommend surgery. According to a study, “While surgery may be an option for severe pain or disability, it is not always the best course of action.”