5 Exercises for Cervical Disc Herniation
Our spinal cord has spiral rings known as discs, and when a disc degenerates, the soft gel inside the disc leaks into the spinal canal and is known as a herniated disc. Once the soft gel leaks into the spinal canal, it creates pressure on the nerves causing leg pain or arm pain. Lumbar herniated disc form leg pain, and cervical herniated disc form arm pain. In today’s post let’s uncover about the cervical herniated disc and the ideal exercises for this condition.
The Cervical Disc Herniation
A cervical herniated disc can occur from a neck injury and trauma. A cervical herniated disc can cause several types of pains without showing symptoms. It could start from pain in the neck, arm, or electric shock-like waves in hand. Sometimes weakness of the hand or arm may also be present.
The cervical spine has six intervertebral discs, and each one has its function and helps distribute the load from the neck and head. A disc contains annulus fibrosus and nucleus pulposus. Annulus fibrosus is the outer hard collagen fiber to protect the inner layer and handle the heavy load. Nucleus pulposus protects the inner gel-like network of fibers and provides flexibility for movement. When the outer layer tears, the inner nucleus pulposus leaks into the tears and causes disc herniation. The nucleus pulposus has inflammatory proteins that cause severe pain.
Top 5 Exercises for Cervical Disc Herniation
Physiotherapy and gentle exercises are known as an effective treatment for getting relief from disc herniation. Exercise recommended by physiotherapists strengthens the muscles, reduces pressure on the spinal cord, and improves flexibility. Physiotherapists will give a specific exercise program that contains small exercises in the beginning and also advise you to don’t do any activity which can promote the herniation process.
Disc herniation worsened the posture of the patient; shoulder stretch exercise helps to improve posture. Posture plays a significant role in the cervical region, and fixing it will relax the shoulders and upper back, resulting in relief from pain. You can do this exercise without regarding the place and time.
Start the exercise by standing straight and holding your hands at the back with interlaced fingers. Gently lift your interlaced arms and continue to raise until you feel a good stretch of shoulder muscle in front of the shoulders. Hold this position for at least 15 seconds and then come back in a straight standing position. Repeat the procedure at least 4 to 5 times. You will feel a considerable change in pain after some days.
Chin tucks provide stretch to the upper cervical area underneath your skull. It is the significance exercise recommended by most of the physiotherapists to keep the head aligned to the spine and to improve posture. If the exercise of chin tucks is done correctly, it can help you to improve the mobility, flexibility, and strength of your neck.
Start the exercise by standing straight with feet and shoulders apart. Look forward and pull the chin until you feel the stretch at the base of your head and top of your neck. Hold this position for at least 5 seconds. Come back to the normal situation and repeat the steps at least 10 times. In the beginning, you will feel uncomfortable, but as time passes, you will feel a satisfactory relief of pain.
3. Shoulder blade squeeze
Above: Dr. Christine Pieton, PT, DPT, give us tips and demonstrated a Shoulder Blade Squeeze.
Shoulder blade squeeze is a useful exercise for the back joints and increases their strength, flexibility, and mobility. It focuses on squeezing and drawing the shoulder blades together and helps to make comfortable movements. The central muscle of the back becomes strong after working on the exercise and helps to improve posture.
Start the exercise by sitting on a chair with flat feet on the ground. Forward your chest so that your back becomes straight. Keep your shoulders, ears, back and hips aligned. Raise your hands to shoulders with bent elbows and palms facing forward. Move your arms backward to squeeze shoulder blades together. Hold this position for at least 10 seconds and come back to the normal position. Repeat the steps at least five times a day, and you will see a significant relief of pain.
4.Neck Extension with Towel Exercise
Stretching and strengthening exercises are very useful in disc herniation. Neck extension exercise also has significant importance against the disc herniation and increases the mobility and strength of the neck. It improves posture and provides relief from pain. In disc herniation, tension builds up in the neck area and causes pain. The neck extension exercise helps to release tension from that area and provide us with relaxation.
Above: Jay Youn, one of our Kinesiologist instructs a patient for a neck with towel exercise.
Start by sitting up straight with a towel behind your neck. Then hold the ends of your towel in each hand. Look upwards or towards the ceiling, extending your neck, while simultaneously pulling forwards on the ends of the towel. Then, you can pull the towel while you are looking downwards or towards the floor.
Other types of neck extensions:
Start the exercise by lying back on the bed with the head at the bottom line of the bed. Gently lower your head and hang it for at least 1 minute. Come back and relax for 1 minute and repeat the process for 5 to 10 times.
Another neck extension exercise with head lift starts by lying on your belly, hands on the sides, and head hanging off. Gently raise your head and extend your neck against gravity or ground. Hold the position for at least 5 to 10 seconds and repeat the process for 15 to 20 times.
5. Lateral Bend
Lateral bend is another exercise of the neck and helps to release the tension of joints. It has the same importance as the neck extension.
The exercise starts by sitting with a straight back and relaxed shoulder. Then tilt your head as you are going to touch your ear to the shoulder. Move the neck towards both soldiers and hold the position for 30 seconds each time. Repeat the procedure for at least 3 to 5 times a day.
How to stay safe while exercising the neck?
Neck exercises have great importance and are very beneficial against disc herniation. But everyone should remain active while exercising and maintain safety measures while doing exercises. Before starting exercise, warm-up yourself, and also prepare your mind for exercise. Gently move your neck, don’t hurry yourself to get rid of the regular exercise. Be calm and slowly move your neck. Divide the exercise into steps and slowly move the neck to achieve those steps to complete a phase of exercise. If you feel pain, reduce the speed or steps of exercise and rest for some time and do it again. It will help you to get recovery quickly.
A Quick Note
If you have a cervical disc herniation, it is essential to consult first your physician or get help from a licensed healthcare professional such as a physiotherapist. The exercises above are for general education purposes. It does not intend to avoid consultation or going to a healthcare professional.
Looking for a registered physiotherapist in the Coquitlam area?
Evergreen Wellness and Rehab have licensed and skilled physiotherapists in Coquitlam that can help you fix your cervical disc herniation. We are always ready to assist you in your health and wellness goals.
You may also book for our physiotherapy services by booking online here.