In yesterday’s video I spoke about what a disc bulge is, common symptoms and how to
treat it. If anyone missed out on it click below to watch.
This blog will focus solely on THE BEST EXERCISE for your disc problem from a physiotherapists viewpoint.
When you have a disc bulge the gel like substance in the middle of the disc gets pushed through a crack in the outer ring of the disc. If you imagine squeezing a jam doughnut, the jam is the gel in the centre of the disc getting pushed out the back of the disc.
This in turn can push against or compress the nerve as shown in the picture above. The nerves supply the feeling and power to the muscles of the leg. That’s why you can feel tingling, pins and needles, pain or burning down your leg.
As you can see from the image above when we are standing up straight the disc is spread nicely across the vertebra. When we bend forward the gel like substance which is called the nucleus pulposis tends to get squeezed to the back of the disc. If someone has a tear in their outer rim of the fibrocartilage this can push out the back of the disc. That is why bending causes people with disc pain a lot of problems.
On the contrary we can see from the image that arching backwards has the opposite effect, pushing the gel in the middle of the disc towards the front. This is the basic science behind why this exercise is so effective for disc pain.
What we are trying to do in terms of this exercise is centralise the disc- pushing the gel like substance back into the middle of the disc, therefore taking the pressure off the nerve. I will break this exercise into 3 stages. The best advice I can give you as a physiotherapist is to listen to your body and only go as far as you feel comfortable with. If you are unsure seek the advice of a professional.
(i) Lying on your stomach with a pillow under your waist. Hold as long as is comfortable- aiming to increase this with time up to 2 mins.
(ii) Lying on your stomach without the pillow. Again building up to a 2 mins. This increases the extension of the lower back.
(iii) Lying on your stomach but pushing up on your arms, lifting your chest off the floor. Again building up to 2 mins. Build this up slowly and don’t extend back too far into pain.
If you’re not sure if you have a disc problem or unsure if this will help, my advice to you is this:
If you suffer from tingling or pins and needles or numbness down your leg- lie on your stomach for 2 minutes. If this makes your leg pain, tingling or pins and needles improve then you likely have a disc issue in your back. If unsure call to me at Fitzgerald Physiotherapy Clinic Abbeyfeale Co. Limerick and I will assess you.
People often wake up in the middle of the night or early morning with intense leg pain or tingling. This is because the disc swells over night and often early morning is the worst time for this. If you find yourself waking up my best advice to you is to turn over onto your stomach and hold this position as long as possible. This should help ease the leg symptoms.
During the day you should do regular back extensions in standing with the same goal in mind of helping centralise the disc.
In my next video I will show you my Top 3 Core Stability Exercises to help rehab you and build your resilience after back pain.
I hope this blog was helpful for those with back pain. If you have any questions or queries don’t hesitate to comment or phone us to discuss. If you do have any disc problems and feel like you need some help from an experienced physiotherapist in Abbeyfeale Co. Limerick- phone me on 0877214265 to book an appointment.