Spleen is a very small organ. It is situated in the left side of the body on the upper abdominal region behind the stomach. It is a very soft spongy organ usually of the size of one’s fist. It does quite a good number of jobs. Spleen is the most important organ in the immune system. It produces lymphocytes when the microbes invade the body. It helps in fighting against germs with the help of macrophages and provides protection against diseases. It filters the blood and removes old and worn out cells.
However, a person might feel pain in the upper abdomen region, on the left side of the body, which worsens immediately after a meal and/or on taking deep breath. This may be a sign of enlarged spleen, spleen infection or spleen damage/rupture.
Enlarged Spleen. A Brief Details
Normal spleen is usually impalpable because it is tucked behind the ribcage, is in the size of a fist and weighs approximately 200 g. If it is increased in size, it is palpable and its weight may increase up to 2 kg. This condition of enlargement of spleen is called splenomegaly. Splenomegaly may be because of various reasons. Some of the causes include viral, bacterial or blood parasitic infections, Lymphatic leukemia, Hemolytic anemia, hereditary hemoglobinopathies, Liver disorders, Cystic fibrosis etc. In some cases, the reason for enlarged spleen is unknown. Splenomegaly may be symptomatic or asymptomatic. If the patient is asymptomatic, doctor may ask the patient for follow-up for re-examinations every six months or so. However, in many cases, it is identified based on the symptoms. The symptoms include, hiccups, pain in upper abdomen in the left side of the body, fatigue, worsening of pain after meal and/or on deep breathing, anemia, repeated infections, bleeding, not able to eat large meal, feeling full after a very small meal.
Can you Exercise with an Enlarged Spleen?
This is a very important question. Enlarged spleen is a serious condition. So, it is very essential to take the physician’s advice before starting exercises. Unless and until the doctor agrees, the patient with enlarged spleen should not start any sort of exercises.
However, exercises and yoga are helpful to maintain the normal tone of muscles. Muscles help in movement of the body. The trunk of human body is also called torso or core. The chest, abdomen and back are considered as torso or core. The muscles in this area are called core muscles. The muscles which support for posture and movement of spine (erector spinae, longissimus thoracis, multifidus), pelvis (pelvic floor muscles), abdomen (transversus abdominis, internal and external obliques, rectus abdominis) and hips (hip flexors) are considered as core muscles. Co-ordination of all these muscles brings about the following functions.
- Stability in the thoracic and pelvic region
- Ability to control and coordinate bowel movements
- During labor and delivery in females
- Holding the breath in lifting, pushing, excretion
- Providing center of gravity to the body
- Protecting the surrounding organs from mechanical shocks.
Before commencing the exercises when having an enlarged spleen, it is important to follow some useful tips.
- Identifying the exercises which are helpful for core muscles
- Focusing on the core muscles while doing the exercises
- Exercises are performed slowly
- Breathing continuously and slowly while doing exercises
- One should not hold the breath while doing exercises
- Perfection of each exercise is of utmost importance
- After being perfect in one exercise, should move on to the next one.
Which are the Safe Exercise for Enlarged Spleen?
Some of the exercises and yoga postures are listed below which are found to help the patients with enlarged spleen.
Viparita Karani for Enlarged Spleen. This yoga posture is also called legs up the wall pose. The steps involved in this pose are.
- Yoga mat should be kept alongside a wall.
- Lie down on the mat by placing the sole towards the wall.
- Bring the bottom close to the wall as far as possible.
- Legs should be stretched straight up the wall.
- Sole should be facing the roof and heels rested on the wall.
- Arms should be stretched sideways to make a T-shape with respect to the body.
- Stay in this position for 5 to 10 minutes.
Parsvottanasana as an Effective Exercise for Enlarged Spleen. This yoga posture is also called intense side stretch pose. This exercise posture gives a massaging effect for abdominal organs and also for spleen and it also helps to calm the brain. The steps involved in this pose are.
- Stand straight with one leg extended out in front of you.
- Distance between feet should be 3 to 4 feet.
- Torso should be bent from hips over your front leg.
- Arms should be raised overhead.
- Hands are released to the ground.
- Stay for 30 seconds.
- Release and switch over to the other leg and repeat the same steps mentioned above.
Bharadvajasana as the Best Exercise for Enlarged Spleen. This yoga posture is also known as Bharadwaja twist. This exercise can be useful for the patients who are suffering from kidney and spleen disorders. The steps are.
- Sit on the yoga mat with stretched legs in front of you.
- Knees are bent and the lower leg is kept outside the right hip.
- Right ankle is kept in the left foot arch
- Elongate the spine.
- Twist your torso towards left while the left arm is lined up with the spine.
- Right hand is placed on the outside of left knee.
- Stay in this position for 30 seconds.
- Repeat to the other side also.
Bharadvajasana II for Enlarged Spleen. This is another very good and safe exercise for enlarged spleen. The steps are.
- Sit on the yoga mat by folding your legs from the knees and keeping it outside the right hip.
- Bend the left leg such that the foot is placed on the right thigh near to the groin area.
- Now twist your body on the left side trying to look back.
- Place the right hand on the left knee and hold the left foot with the left hand from behind.
- Hold the position for a few seconds and repeat on the other side.
Though there are a number of exercises and postures in yoga for keeping abdomen in good condition for normal individuals, the number will be reduced when it comes for the exercises for patients. In particular, in case of patients with enlarged spleen, the abdominal exercises should be done only when doctor gives permission. Usually the abdominal exercises should be avoided until the spleen returns to the normal size. Moreover, if the patient is advised for full or partial splenectomy, the strenuous exercises should be completely avoided. It is important to note that vigorous and strenuous exercises are to be avoided even in patients with enlarged spleen. Light exercises such as light bicycling, walking can be performed which will help to boost the immune system. When the spleen returns to its normal size, the safe exercises should be started slowly under doctor’s guidance. The sit-ups and the duration will be decided by the health professional according to the condition of the patient.