A herniated disc is a common, painful condition that occurs when one of the rubbery cushions between the vertebrae of the spine is damaged, forcing some of the disc’s jelly-like interior to push outside of its tough exterior and come into contact with nearby nerves. This can happen in either the lower back (lumbar spine) or the upper spine near the neck (cervical spine). Though some people have herniated discs and experience no symptoms, for many the result is pain, weakness, and numbness that requires medical attention and treatment.
The symptoms of a herniated disc depend sometimes depend on where it is located. When the disc is located high on the spine, closer to the neck, the pain is more likely to be felt in the arms and shoulders, while a herniated disc in the lumbar region is more likely to send pain to the buttocks and legs.
Though the pain of a herniated disc is caused by the injury itself, if you are currently suffering through those painful symptoms then you need to be aware that there are certain contributing factors and actions you may be doing that may be adding to your misery. These include:
- The Way You’re Lifting. When back pain from a herniated disc strikes, your first instinct may be to crawl into bed or just sit on the couch, but if you have a job to do that’s not always a possibility. If your life involves any kind of lifting (whether moving boxes, carrying groceries into the house or lifting children) it is very important that you use the right lifting posture. This means making sure that you don’t ‘put your back into it’, but instead lead with your hips, keep the object you’re carrying close to your body, and keeping your chest forward. As is always the case, try to use your legs when you lift – your quads are among the strongest muscles in your body, and they are far better able to bear the load then the muscles in your torso.
- The Way You’re Sitting. Most of us spend a tremendous amount of time sitting down. Anybody who has ever experienced a herniated disc and then had to sit in a car for a long ride knows that can be agonizing. The best way to avoid this pain is to make sure that your back is pressed flat against the chair’s back and you have lumbar support, keep your feet flat on the floor and your knees level with your hips.
- The Way You’re Moving. The first thing you need to be aware of after a herniated disc is that it’s the wrong time to be running, jogging or jumping. Doing so will put additional pressure on the discs, and could make the situation worse. Walking is a good activity for people suffering from back pain, but you must maintain good posture with your head and shoulders held high and your gaze straight ahead. Keep your stomach muscles engaged and walk slowly, using short steps and a heel strike rather than touching down with your toes.
Back pain from a herniated disc can be effectively addressed with the proper medical treatment. To set up a convenient appointment, contact us today.