WHAT IS DiSC HERNiATiON?
Between each vertebrae of the spine are intervertebral discs, or cushions for support and mobility of the spine. The intervertebral discs act as shock absorbers for the spine.
The center of the disc, which is a liquid like substance, is called the nucleus pulposus. The annulus fibrosus is a fibrous tissue that surrounds the nucleus pulposus. Disc herniation is a bulging of the nucleus pulposus into the annulus fibrosus of the intervertebral disc.
When the disc herniation pinches the spinal nerve, you may experience pain down your leg if the disc herniation is in the lower back, or pain down your arm if the disc herniation is in the neck.
Disc herniation is caused by “wear and tear” and dehydration of the discs. “Wear and tear” can be caused by occupational demands such as repetitive lifting, twisting, pushing, pulling, and bending, especially with heavy loads. The discs may lose their pliability and become dehydrated from smoking and weight gain.
HOW CAN DiSC HERNiATiON iMPACT YOUR HEALTH?
1. MOTOR WEAKNESS
You may have weakness in your arm or leg that can lead to clumsiness, difficulty preforming certain tasks with your upper extremity, or difficulty walking in advanced cases. Decreased motor function can be associated with poor balance and an increased risk of falls.
2. ABNORMAL SENSATION
You may have abnormal sensation such as “pins and needles” or numbness in your arm or leg that can get progressively worse. Numbness may impact proprioception and balance.
SYMPTOMS OF DiSC HERNiATiON:
1. NECK PAIN: if the disc herniation is in your neck it can cause neck pain with stiffness, tightness, and decreased range of motion
2. LOW BACK PAIN: if the disc herniation is in your lower back it can cause back pain with stiffness, tightness, and decreased range of motion
3. SHOOTING PAIN: pain can shoot down your arm or leg. The pain may feel “electric” and go from your neck down your arm or from your back down your leg
4. “PINS AND NEEDLES:” you may have abnormal sensation such as the feeling of “pins and needles” or numbness in your arm or leg
AT HOME DiSC HERNiATiON EXERCiSES
1. LOWER BACK EXTENSION
Lay flat on a mat and press up into extension. Keep your eyes parallel with the ground and relax your jaw, neck, and back. Hold the extension position on your elbows for 30 seconds, and then relax. Repeat 3 times. Move into the position slowly and relax if you feel shooting pain in your leg.
2. NECK RETRACTION
Proper neck posture can help with management of neck and lower back disc herniation. Retract your neck back so your ears are aligned over your shoulders. Keep your eyes parallel with the floor. Retract your neck back and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat 5 times.
AT HOME ERGONOMiC ESSENTiALS
1. PROPER POSTURE WHILE LIFTING:
◊ Stand close to the item you are lifting, bend with your legs (do not bend forward from your hips), keep your back straight, and make sure you have proper balance. Lift the item up straight and do not twist your spine while lifting. Hold the item close to your body so it is easier to lift.
2. PROPER SEATED POSTURE:
◊ Sit in neutral posture to reduce pressure to the lower back. While seated your head should be retracted back so your ears are over your shoulders, your shoulders are pulled back and not slouched forward, your hips are underneath your shoulders, your knees are at a 90 degree angle with your knees over your ankles, and your feet flat on the ground facing forward. Avoid crossing your legs, slouching your spine, looking down for prolonged periods of time, and shifting your hips forward in your chair.
3. SEATED LUMBAR SUPPORT:
◊ To help you maintain proper posture, place a small lumbar support behind your lower back and your chair. You can place a small cushion or roll up a towel and place it behind your back. With the lumbar support you should be able to sit up in proper posture without slouching your shoulders forward or translating your hips forward. With the body in a neutral posture there is less pressure to the spinal discs.
If you suspect that you may be suffering from a disc related problem, first step is to find out exactly what type of disc problem you have and whether it can be treated conservatively or requires surgery. Neglect will only make it worse.
How We Can Help
We recommend considering conservative treatment options. To determine if you are a good candidate for conservative care, we recommend a consultation and a complete posture analysis for specialized patient centred care options. Find out more about your neck or back disc problem today. Book an appointment now.
Burns, K. (2020) Disc Herniation and Posture, American Posture Institute Blog
Dydyk, A. M., Massa, R. N., & Mesfin, F. B. (2020). Disc Herniation. StatPearls [Internet].
Kerr, Dana, Wenyan Zhao, and Jon D. Lurie. "What are long-term predictors of outcomes for lumbar disc herniation? A randomized and observational study." Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research® 473.6 (2015): 1920-1930.
Slipped Disk: Overview, National Library of Medicine, PubMed Health. 2020.
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