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Safe Herniated Disc Exercises

Safe Herniated Disc Exercises

Gentle exercise, like most back conditions, is part of the treatment to treat a herniated disc. When the hard outer of the disc is not strong enough to support the soft jelly, it can cause a herniated or ruptured disc. This can cause severe pain and even death.

  • Back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Shooting arm pain
  • Tingling, numbness or weakness in the foot or leg
  • Tingling, weakness, or numbness in one arm

A herniated disc does not typically require surgery. The treatment of symptoms caused by a herniated disc is often recommended by doctors as physiotherapy. Any disc in the spine can be herniated. However, it is most common in the lower back. Depending on the location of the herniated disc, there are different exercises that can be used to help.

How does a herniated disc feel?

A lumbar disc herniation is often accompanied by lower back pain. This pain may last for several days before subsiding. However, leg pain, numbness, or tingling and/or weakness in the lower extremities are often followed by this type of pain. The leg pain usually travels below the knee and can affect the ankle or foot.

How long can the pain last?

Patients with lumbar disc herniation tend to experience gradual improvement over days to weeks. Most patients are symptom-free in 3 to 4 months. Here are some exercises to help with your back pain caused by herniated discs. You may find it helpful to learn more about herniated discs in general.

Exercise 1: Standing Lumbar Extension

It’s beneficial because it helps reduce the pressure on your discs in the back.

Steps:

  1. Stand tall
  2. Get your hands on your hips
  3. To extend your lower back, gently push your hips forward.
  4. Keep it for 2-3 seconds
  5. For a total of 10 repetitions, repeat the exercise.

Exercise 2: Standing Row With Resistance Band (special elastic band)

It’s beneficial because it can help reduce pain

Steps:

  1. The band can be attached to a stable object, such as a doorknob and a staircase post.
  2. Standing tall, with your feet slightly bent at the knees and your hips open, grasp the end of this band with both your hands.
  3. Bend your elbows and pull the band towards yourself. Keep your forearms parallel to the floor.

Repeat this 10 times. Continue for a few seconds, and then repeat the process 10 times.

Exercise 3: Prone on Elbows

Why it is beneficial: It helps to realign the discs.

Steps

  1. Place your belly on the ground.
  2. Place your hands near your shoulders on the ground.
  3. Keep your shoulders and back straightened by pushing up.
  4. This position should be held for 30 seconds.

Repeat the process 5-10 times.

Exercise 4: Cobra Pose

It’s beneficial because you can move from the Prone On Elbows to Cobra pose, which is a popular pose in yoga.

Important: Cobra Pose, an advanced version of prone with elbows, is a form of prone on the elbows. Do not attempt to be prone on elbows if you are unable to do so.

Steps:

  1. Place your hands on your stomach and place your arms on the ground.
  2. Ten seconds.
  3. Reduce your head, chest and shoulders.

Repeat the process 5-10 times.

Exercise 5: Sciatic Nerve Fluid Floss

Steps:

  • Place your arms at your sides, your knees bent, and your feet flat on the ground in a chair.
  • Place your chin on the chest, and then bend your neck forward towards your torso.
  • Slowly straighten your leg by extending your neck and chest while flexing your ankle. NOTE: It is possible to straighten your leg completely without experiencing pain or other symptoms.

Revert to the original position.

Two sets of 10 should be completed on the affected side.

There are also other options for treating herniated discs

Rest is a good option to ease severe pain from lumbar disc herniation. You should not rest longer than that as it can cause stiffness and pain.

Anti-inflammatory medication – medicines such as naproxen and ibuprofen can help reduce inflammation and pain.

Physical therapy – Performing specific exercises to increase range and strengthen your core and lower back muscles may be a good option to ease pain and decrease your chances of injuring yourself again.

Spinal manipulation – manipulation of the lower back joints may improve range of motion and reduce pain.

Massage therapy – can help reduce pain by increasing blood circulation.

Injections of epidural steroids – corticosteroids may be injected into the affected area to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.

What can exercise do?

A herniated disc can often be treated with physiotherapy and exercises. A doctor will recommend that you rest for a few days after having a herniated disc.

Gentle activities and exercises can strengthen the spine muscles and lower the pressure on the spinal column. They can also increase flexibility and reduce the chance of a herniated disc recurring.

Doctors may recommend that you start slowly and build up your activity gradually. The doctor will explain what exercises a person should do and not do during recovery.

The following gentle activities can be helpful for a herniated disc:

  • Yoga
  • Swimming
  • Walking
  • Cycling

All exercises should be done slowly and carefully, particularly when you are bending or lifting. It should not hurt to do exercises. If someone feels pain, they should stop doing the exercise and consult their doctor.

Avoid these exercises

You can herniate your disc by lifting heavy objects, applying sudden pressure to the back, and engaging in repetitive strenuous activity. A herniated disc patient should refrain from engaging in strenuous activity during their recovery.

All exercises that cause pain should be avoided. Sciatica patients should avoid hamstring exercises.

Some people might prefer to avoid high-impact activities like jogging and martial arts. These activities can cause injury to the spine.

It is safer to start small and increase intensity as you reduce symptoms. However, it is possible to improve the outcome of a person’s condition by starting exercises and stretching early.

Talk to your doctor about the best exercise program for you.

What are the Risk Factors for a Herniated Disc?

These are the risk factors:

  • Age: Back pain due to herniated discs occurs most commonly in those in their 30s and 50s.
  • Sex: Men are twice as likely to have sex than women.
  • Smoking
  • Heavy lifting

How is a herniated disc diagnosed?

A person’s medical history, symptoms and physical exam are usually used to diagnose a herniated disc. The examination focuses on the neurologic and musculoskeletal systems. To check for disc problems in your lower back, you may also need to perform tests such as the straight leg raise test.

If a person is experiencing severe or more serious neurologic symptoms, MRI or CT imaging tests may be recommended. In preparation for surgery or injections, imaging studies can also be done.

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Kevin Pauza, M.D.

SPECIALTY

  • Disc Biologics
  • Interventional Spine

EDUCATION & DEGREES

  • Fellowship: Interventional Spine, University of Pennsylvania
  • Residency: PM&R, University of Pennsylvania
  • Internship: Surgery & Medicine, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
  • Medical Doctorate: Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine
  • Bachelor of Arts: Biology, Lehigh University
  • Bachelor of Arts: Psychology, Lehigh University

CERTIFICATIONS & LICENSES

  • Texas State Medical and Surgical License
  • New York State Medical and Surgical License
  • Florida State Medical and Surgical License

HONORS

  • Lehigh University Four-year Academic Scholarship
  • Magna Cum Laude, Lehigh University
  • Lehigh University President’s Award
  • Lehigh University Tower Society
  • Distinguished Alumnus, Penn State University (selected from 500,000 Penn State alumni)
  • North American Spine Society, Outstanding Paper of the Year, 2003
  • President-Elect, International Spine Intervention Society
  • Founding Partner, Texas Spine and Joint Hospital
  • Commencement Speaker: Penn State University College of Medicine
  • Advisory Board, AMA
    Keynote Speaker, Harvard Pain Center Commencement
  • Founding Chairman, Standards Committee, International Spine Intervention Society
  • Chairman, Spine Committee, Amercian Academy of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
  • Appointed Spine Advisor, Japanese Prime Minister
  • Appointed Spine Advisor, Allied Royal Families

EXPERIENCE

  • Founding Partner & Principal, Texas Spine & Joint Hospital

Travis Foxx, M.D. - Premier Anesthesiology & Pain

Kevin Pauza, M.D. - Turtle Creek Surgery Center

Prior to attending Penn State University, Dr. Pauza earned his undergraduate degree from Lehigh University, and furthered his training with a Surgical and Medical Internship at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He continued his specialty training at the University of Pennsylvania, followed by an Interventional Spine Fellowship. In addition to his research, philanthropic, and clinical endeavors, Dr. Pauza remains a motivated educator. He established a Spine Fellowship program and continues training physicians from around the world. He heads international committees responsible for establishing standards and educating surgical and non-surgical physicians.

After helping hundreds of patients who failed to experience relief after spine surgery, it became evident to Dr. Pauza that current methods needed to change. This motivated him to seek better ways to help patients, by thinking outside the box.

Dr. Pauza is the first physician in history to pursue FDA approval for using biologics to treat the spine. Millions of patients will benefit from his development of minimally invasive treatments for degenerative disc disease and other more common and serious disorders of the spine.

SPECIALTY

  • Disc Biologics
  • Interventional Spine

EDUCATION & DEGREES

  • Fellowship: Interventional Spine, University of Pennsylvania
  • Residency: PM&R, University of Pennsylvania
  • Internship: Surgery & Medicine, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
  • Medical Doctorate: Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine
  • Bachelor of Arts: Biology, Lehigh University
  • Bachelor of Arts: Psychology, Lehigh University

CERTIFICATIONS & LICENSES

  • Texas State Medical and Surgical License
  • New York State Medical and Surgical License
  • Florida State Medical and Surgical License

HONORS

  • Lehigh University Four-year Academic Scholarship
  • Magna Cum Laude, Lehigh University
  • Lehigh University President’s Award
  • Lehigh University Tower Society
  • Distinguished Alumnus, Penn State University (selected from 500,000 Penn State alumni)
  • North American Spine Society, Outstanding Paper of the Year, 2003
  • President-Elect, International Spine Intervention Society
  • Founding Partner, Texas Spine and Joint Hospital
  • Commencement Speaker: Penn State University College of Medicine
  • Advisory Board, AMA
    Keynote Speaker, Harvard Pain Center Commencement
  • Founding Chairman, Standards Committee, International Spine Intervention Society
  • Chairman, Spine Committee, Amercian Academy of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
  • Appointed Spine Advisor, Japanese Prime Minister
  • Appointed Spine Advisor, Allied Royal Families

EXPERIENCE

  • Founding Partner & Principal, Texas Spine & Joint Hospital

Brandon Tolman, D.O. - Nashville Spine Institute

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Thierry Bonnabesse, M.D. - Champlain Spine and Pain Management

Gregory Lutz, M.D. - Regenerative Sportscare Institute

Dr. Gregory Lutz is the Founder and Medical Director of the Regenerative SportsCare Institute (RSI). In addition, he currently serves as Physiatrist-In-Chief Emeritus at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) and a Professor of Clinical Rehabilitation Medicine at Weill Medical College of Cornell University. Dr. Lutz is one of the world’s leading experts in the field of regenerative interventional orthopedic medicine, appearing annually on Castle Connolly’s and New York Magazine’s “Top Doctors” lists.

Janet Pearl, M.D. - The Boston Stem Cell Center

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Previously, Dr. Pearl was the Co-Director of the Pain Management Center at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, where she was also the Director of the Pain Management Fellowship program.

After graduating from Harvard College with an A.B. in Applied Mathematics with Economics, Dr. Pearl received a M.Sc. in Health Planning and Financing at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She then received her M.D. from the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, where she represented the Medical School as a senator in the Columbia University Senate.

Watch Dr Pearl give an introduction to The Boston Stem Cell Center

Dr. Pearl completed her internship in Internal Medicine at New England Deaconess Hospital, her residency in Anesthesiology at the Massachusetts General Hospital, and her fellowship in Pain Management at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Dr. Pearl was the first resident ever to serve on the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)’s Residency Review Committee for Anesthesiology. She is a Joseph Collins Scholar and a Rotary Scholar and was awarded the AMA/Glaxo Welcome and AMA/Burroughs Welcome Resident Leadership Awards.

From 2004 to 2010, Dr. Pearl served on the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees. While there she chaired the Committee on Science, Technology and Research, was a member of the Committee on Academic and Student Affairs and the Governance Committee and also served as Vice Chair of the Advancement Committee, and as a member of the Committee on Athletics.

Dr. Pearl is Board Certified in Regenerative Medicine, Pain Medicine and Anesthesiology with the American Board of Regenerative Medicine and the American Board of Anesthesiologists.

Memberships:

  • The American Pain Society;
  • The Massachusetts Medical Society;
  • The Massachusetts Society of Anesthesiologists;
  • The Massachusetts Society of Interventional Pain Physicians;
  • The American Society of Anesthesiologists;
  • The American Society of International Pain Physicians;
  • The American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine; and,
  • The American Board of Regenerative Medicine.

PUBLIC SERVICE:

  • Member, Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents, Health Care Services Board 
  • Member of the Association of Harvard College Class Secretaries and Treasurers
  • Past Member of the Board of Directors of the Harvard Alumni Association
  • Former Member of the Board of Trustees University of Massachusetts. (10/2010 – 10/2014) 

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Desmond Hussey, M.D. - NASA Neuroscience and Spine Associates. P.L

Dr. Hussey earned his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College, and proceeded to earn his Medical Degree from The University of Miami School of Medicine. He then attended Northwestern University Internal Medicine Program, followed by a Neurology Residency Program at Emory University. Dr. Hussey continued his specialty training at John Hopkins University pain clinic. A member of The Spinal Injection Society and The American Academy of Neurology and Psychiatry.

Haley Burke, M.D. - Mile High Sports and Rehab

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Maxim Moradian, M.D. - Interventional Spine Care & Orthopedic Regenerative Experts

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Wendi Lundquist, D.O. - Active Life Physical Medicine & Pain Center

Dr. Lundquist is the Medical Director and founder of Active Life Physical Medicine & Pain Center, Innovative Surgery Center, and Regena Spa. She is dual board certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation along with Pain Management and a diplomat with the American Board of Pain Medicine. She completed her training at Loyola University in Chicago, Illinois in July of 2005. During her time there, she served as Chief Resident and was involved in several research projects. Prior to, she completed medical school at Midwestern University at the Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine campus in Glendale, Arizona and internship at Doctors Hospital in Massillon, Ohio. She also has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and minor in Chemistry from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. She has a special interest in sports medicine, pain and spine. With 17 years experience, she has great enthusiasm towards regenerative medicine.

Yasuyuki Nonaka, M.D. - Nonaka Lumbago Clinic

Haley Burke, M.D. - Colorado Rehabilitation & Occupational Medicine

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Haley Burke, M.D. - Colorado Rehabilitation & Occupational Medicine

Dr. Burke is board-certified in both Interventional Pain Management and Neurology and has completed an accredited Pain Fellowship with the Department of Anesthesiology at MD Anderson Cancer Center, one of the nation’s most prestigious hospitals. Dr. Burke completed her residency in Neurology at the University of Colorado, where she received the department’s ‘Excellence in Teaching’ award during her year as Chief Resident. Her Doctor of Medicine degree was completed at the University of Texas Health Science Center, where she was elected to the ‘Gold Humanism Honor Society.’

Matthias H. Wiederholz, M.D. - Performance Pain and Sports Medicine

Founding Partner, Triple Board Certified – Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation; Sports Medicine; Anti-Aging, Regenerative & Functional Medicine

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He received his specialty training in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas where he served as chief resident. He completed fellowship training in Interventional Pain Management in Marietta, Georgia. He is board-certified in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine. He also received advanced fellowship training through the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine and is board-certified in Anti-Aging, Regenerative & Functional Medicine.

Dr. Wiederholz performs a myriad of interventional pain procedures including, but not limited to the following: epidural steroid injections, facet joint injections, radiofrequency ablation, sacroiliac joint injections, discography, percutaneous disc decompression, epidural lysis of adhesions spinal cord stimulator implants, and minimally-invasive discectomies. Endoscopic spine surgery is a very unique and valuable tool in his armamentarium and makes Dr. Wiederholz one of the most specialized physicians in the field of Pain Medicine.

Dr. Wiederholz uses musculoskeletal ultrasound in the diagnosis of musculoskeletal injuries. He incorporates ultrasound for precise injection therapy including cortisone injections, prolotherapy, and PRP (platelet rich plasma). This technology is also utilized to perform the Tenex procedure, a percutaneous procedure for treating chronic tendon pain (tennis elbow, rotator cuff, plantar fasciitis, etc).

Dr. Wiederholz is the fellowship director for the sports and spine fellowship at Performance Spine & Sports Medicine. Dr. Wiederholz holds an affiliation with Capital Health System and JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute.

Being advanced fellowship trained in Anti-Aging, Regenerative & Functional Medicine means that Dr. Wiederholz has the most advanced training in Anti-Aging Medicine available. He is a leading expert in Bio-Identical Hormone Restoration and helps patients achieve wellness through nutrition, lifestyle, and hormone therapies.

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Michael Wolff, M.D. - Southwest Spine & Sports