A lumbar disc herniation can result in low back pain and pain down the leg. Not to mention a huge interruption to your normal daily activities like sitting at your desk or picking up your kids. Those can suddenly become painful and not much fun!
Being a sports chiropractor I have an active approach to treating disc herniations. I try and get people out of pain fast with chiropractic adjustments, manual therapy and giving exercises and stretches that people can do at home so they move better and don’t have this happen again and again!
And at the time of writing this post, one of my favorite pieces of home exercise to give out is what’s referred to as a foraminal opening exercise and wer’re going to go over it today!
What is a lumbar disc herniation?
A lumbar disc herniation can occur when the outer fibrous layers of the lumbar discs become stressed and the gelatinous center actually migrates through those layers.
When most people think of a disc herniation they think of what’s referred to as a non-contained disc herniation. This is when the gel in the center of the disc makes it’s way all the way through those fibrous layers and end up outside of the disc.
There is also a contained disc herniation. These are referred to as disc protrusions or disc bulges. In this case, the gel in the middle of the disc has made it’s way through some of the fibrous layers but is still “contained” inside the disc, although the disc is malformed and “bulged” usually rearward.
Whether it’s a contained or non-contained disc herniation, one thing is for sure! They can both be sources of pain and cause sciatica symptoms and easily wreck your day, your week, your month or even your year (Friends quote there, sorry)!
Early interventions of treating a disc herniation focus on trying to generally calm down the area and reduce inflammation and pain levels. Things like chiropractic manipulation can be great at reducing pain and muscle spasm, especially when paired with manual therapy.
Can Exercise Actually Help Alongside Chiropractic Adjustments?
There are several different exercises that I like to send people home with. Getting pain relief in the office is great but I prioritize showing people things they can do at home so when their symptoms get irritated they’ve got some tools to use!
.. And one of those exercises is the foraminal opening exercise (I know, not too exciting of a name)!
Just like it sounds, with this exercise, the goal is to attempt to open up the foramen along the sides of the spine.
The foramen are the openings in the side of the spine where the spinal nerves leave the spine to go and innervate structures in the periphery.
A disc herniation can push out toward the foramen which decresaes the space the nerve has to run through.
So, if we open that bad boy up, it kind of makes sense that it can take some mechanical pressure off the nerve and hopefully improve some low back and leg pain symptoms!
So, here is a link to the exercise below. Be sure to try it out and let me know what you think!