Disc Herniation and Low Back Pain

This week we will start a 10 part series on lower back pain.  There are so many causes of lower back pain we wont even try to cover them all here but I will mention the most common and give a few good exercises for most back problems in general for strengthening.  Today we will start with the number one most common back problem: disc herniation

Disc herniation and back pain

This is a super common cause of back pain and can range in severity from mild low back pain to excruciating pain with or without pain down one or both legs all the way to the foot. It can also cause tingling and numbness.  But, did you know a whole bunch of the population walks around with a disc bulge without knowing it at all?  On MRI 50% of people found to have this feel nothing.  So, what is this? Picture a jelly donut. Got it? This donut sits between 2 vertebrae and we call it the disc. Ok, sometimes the jelly in the middle of the donut works its way through the outside ‘dough’ and comes out or pushes the dough out in a spot – this lump or extruded jelly can put physical pressure on nerves or cause a ton of inflammation in the area which also puts pressure on nerves – your body interprets this as pain.

Disc Herniation illustration
Disc Herniations influence the nerves and cause pain

What to do about back pain from a herniated disc

First get checked by your chiropractor or other healthcare provider. It is important to have an accurate diagnosis to know what to do.  Remember that exercises I give are general ones and may not be right for you.  If you do have a herniated disc you will most definitely need hands on care to heal.

A great exercise for lower back pain

As a sweeping generalization though this extension exercise is great for most people and the first one I give to patients with a disc bulge or disc herniation.  All you do is stand up and put your hands on your lower back and then gently extend or arch your back then stand right back up.  Do this 5-6 times. It takes about 20 seconds.  For those with an acute problem I get then to do this once an hour.  Others I recommend a few times per day as it is protective and the opposite than all the flexion we usually do (sitting, bending, slouching).  See my YouTube video below for a visual demonstration.  If you try this and it increases you pain – STOP and ask your healthcare provider. Always listen to your body!