Herniated disc stretches are sometimes employed as part of an exercise program directed at treating the pain associated with disc herniations and degenerative disc disease. Stretching is a nice way to improve overall flexibility and range of motion, but is typically misdirected as a therapy modality for any symptomatic disc condition. Remember, all intervertebral pathologies exist deep inside the spinal anatomy and are not likely to be influenced from any amount of soft tissue stretching.
This article will investigate why stretches are recommended for patients so often and how these physical modalities are designed to help relieve painful disc expressions.
Theory of Herniated Disc Stretches
Most doctors and therapists, who recommend stretching as part of a herniated disc relief program, theorize that elongating the spine will somehow help to take pressure off the compressed disc. While this theory is not completely illogical, it rarely occurs to a large enough extent to make a significant difference in the symptoms experienced. Additionally, stretching does not normally do anything to encourage a bulging disc to shrink back into its normal place between the vertebral structures. This is because stretches might increase overall flexibility, but are unlikely to specifically target the individual intervertebral level which is compressed.
Calisthenics, yoga, tai chi and other forms of stretching are terrific fun, great exercise and a valuable part of a health maintenance program, but are simply not good choices for actively treating a herniated disc.
Are Herniated Disc Stretches Effective?
Stretching can provide some symptomatic relief, especially noticeable in patients whose pain has been incorrectly identified. Misdiagnosed herniated disc pain conditions are usually caused by a soft tissue condition, or a regional oxygen deprivation process, and therefore respond positively to the increased circulation and oxygenation provided by vigorous stretches. While this symptomatic relief is nice, it will not do anything to resolve the ischemic back pain, nor the underlying condition causing the process to occur.
Patients who are suffering from verified structural disc pain will usually not experience noticeable relief from stretching. These patients might appreciate the theory behind stretching the spine, but simply have not been able to optimize the curative potential on their own.
Employing spinal decompression treatment is a far better idea for most disc pain sufferers. Decompression will gently and precisely stretch the spine, while encouraging bulging discs to shrink back into place. Best of all, permanent pain relief is typically enacted in a few weeks time for indicated cases.
Will Stretching Help a Herniated Disc?
If you experience noticeable temporary relief of your diagnosed disc pain from exercise and stretching, there is a very good chance that your diagnosis might be incorrect. This is even more true if your disc pain has not responded well to a variety of appropriate treatment options.
For these patients, I always recommend considering knowledge therapy as an alternative path towards treatment. For all others, I think it is best to go with a proven solution, such as nonsurgical decompression, to resolve the actual source of the pain, rather than simply treating the symptoms, only to have them return in a few hours or days.
After you are pain-free, you can use stretches as part of a lifelong exercise program designed for enjoyment; not pain management.