Herniated nucleus pulposus is a medical condition that affects the spine. It is popularly known as herniated disc or slipped disc. It is characterized by leakage of nucleus pulposus or the jelly like material from the disc due to wear and tear of the discs.(1) Symptoms are felt when there is impingement of the nerve root or the spinal cord due to compressing. Treatment and management of herniated nucleus pulposus involves physical therapy and targeted exercises.
Exercises for Herniated Nucleus Pulposus
It is advised to consult a specialist (pain management specialist/orthopaedic specialist/physiotherapist) before starting any specific exercises. The exercises must be performed while on additional medication as well. These exercises for herniated nucleus pulposus combine stretching and core strengthening for improving flexibility and overall support of the spine. They help is reducing pain and discomfort and possibilities of developing other complications. A few common exercises, targeting at management of herniated nucleus pulposus are described below:
Pelvic Tilts: This is done by lying on your back on the floor with feet flat on the ground and both knees bent. The arms are kept flat by the sides. This is followed by slow tightening of the core muscles and gradual tilting of the pelvis ensuring that a small portion of the back lies flat against the ground. Hold for few seconds and return to the start position. Repeat for a couple of more times. This exercise helps in strengthening the core and the back muscles thus ensuring that the muscles around the spine can bear with the strain and pain of herniated nucleus pulposus.
Knee Tucks to Cure Herniated Nucleus Pulposus: Start by lying flat on the floor on your back. The knees are bent with feet kept flat against the floor. This is followed by clasping hands tight around the right knee and pulling it gently towards the right shoulder until a stretch is felt. Return back to start position and repeat with the opposite side. Return back to original position, grasp both knees and bring them towards chest. The knee tucks helps in stretching and strengthening of the buttocks, back, abs and core muscles. This helps in managing with the pain of herniated nucleus pulposus and also promotes relaxing of the vertebrae to position the spinal material back.
Bridging Exercises for Herniated Nucleus Pulposus: Bridging is a very good exercise for back pain occurring due to any reason including herniated nucleus pulposus. This exercise begins by lying on the floor with back flat against the floor. The knees are bent and feet are flat on the floor. The arms are kept on the side with palm facing the ground. Tighten the core muscles and lift the hips towards the ceiling off the floor. Ensure a straight line from the knees and hips to the chest. Hold for a few seconds. Relax the hips muscles and go back to starting position. This exercise again helps in strengthening the core, abdomen, buttocks and back muscles.
Modified Push ups: This is done by lying flat with chest on the ground. The hands are placed under the shoulder, and the upper body is slowly pushed off the floor, while maintaining hips and legs grounded. Stretch your spine and extend the crown of the head towards the ceiling. A gentle stretch is felt in the abdominal muscles. Push-ups help in strengthening the arms, chest, and back muscles. It also gives a nice stretch to the spine to relieve the pain experienced in herniated nucleus pulposus.
Most of these exercises are easy to perform and can be done at home. However, it is important to consult a physician before performing these exercises to ensure complete safety. Some of the exercises may be modified by the physician to suit a specific patient’s condition. If any point, any discomfort of pain is felt while performing the exercises, it should be discontinued immediately.
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- What Happens If a Herniated Disc is Left Untreated?
- Are Chiropractors Good For Herniated Discs?
- Can A Herniated Disc in Neck Cause Jaw Pain?
- Herniated Nucleus Pulposus: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Pathophysiology, Complications