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Can a Herniated Disc Be Healed with Exercise?


IIt is not unusual to have a herniated disc. Fortunately, there are many nonsurgical ways to minimize the symptoms associated with a disc that is irritating a nearby nerve—often enough to significantly improve your ability to do what you normally do throughout your day. This article provides information on whether exercise can "cure" a herniated disc and how it can be beneficial for managing symptoms.

Relieving Herniated Disc Symptoms with Gentle Exercise

It is possible to stabilize disc herniation with gentler forms of exercise along with various stretching routines, such as
sciatica stretches. You will not necessarily be "curing" the affected disc, but the discomfort may be less disruptive. This is often what people with herniated discs consider most important. According to Spine Health, the effectiveness of exercise and related physical therapy techniques for a herniated disc is largely dependent on how long the herniated disc issues have been present and the severity of the symptoms. It is more likely you will notice beneficial results with exercises that involve:

• Strengthening muscles around the affected disc
• Increasing circulation—which helps with the body's natural healing processes
• Easing soft tissue tension
• Increasing range of motion and flexibility within the affected area

Easing Disc-Related Inflammation

There is also research suggesting exercise naturally eases inflammation. This is good news if you have a herniated disc because tissue swelling around spinal nerves often worsens disc-related symptoms. According to
Medical News Today, a new study suggests even 20 minutes of exercise could have noticeable anti-inflammatory effects.

Increasing the Production of Pain-Relieving Hormones

Considered the body's natural painkillers, endorphins are hormones that are increasingly released by the brain when exercising. When this happens, your herniated disc pain may not be as much of an issue. You might even reach a point where you are less dependent on pain medication to manage
herniated disc discomfort.

Exercising Safely

Before you try any exercises to manage herniated disc issues, talk to your doctor. If your physician says you can move forward with an exercise routine, choose options that are not overly stressful on your spine and the discs that support it, especially in the affected area. Gentle forms of exercise that tend to be safe and effective for herniated disc patients include:

• Yoga poses that are not too strenuous
• Swimming and similar forms of exercise that can be performed in water
• Walking on flat surfaces at a comfortable pace
• Cycling on a stationary or recumbent bike

Tracking Your Progress with Exercise

As you exercise, keep track of whether or not you are noticing any improvement in the severity of your symptoms. Also, make note of any other beneficial results you may notice, such as being able to sleep better. This information helps your doctor adjust your treatment plan. It is just as important to stop if you are noticing any new or increasingly severe discomfort. To reduce this risk, it can be helpful to get exercise recommendations from your doctor or a physical therapist.

If you have a herniated disc that is not responding to conservative treatment, a discectomy may be discussed and potentially recommended. Although this is generally a very successful procedure, having a large hole in the outer ring of the disc more than doubles the risk of needing another operation. A new treatment, Barricaid, is a bone-anchored device that closes this hole, and 95 percent of Barricaid patients did not undergo a reoperation due to reherniation in a 2-year study timeframe. This treatment is done immediately following the discectomy—during the same operation—and does not require any additional incisions or time in the hospital. 

If you have any questions about the Barricaid treatment, ask your doctor or contact us at 844-288-7474.

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