Specific neck exercises can be very helpful in aiding recovery from a herniated disc in neck. A bulging disc in the neck can herniate through acute stress, such as when sneezing or with whiplash, and through chronic wear and tear resulting in a sudden rupture of the annulus (outer protective fibers of the disc). Calcification of the disc can also occur, causing a slightly different type of herniation which, nevertheless, produces similar symptoms to an acute disc herniation. When disc herniation occurs, the nucleus pulposus (inner jelly-like core of the disc) can push through the annulus and put pressure on the nerves and blood vessels of the spine. Much like a bulging disc in neck, various symptoms associated with cervical disc herniation include: numbness, paraesthesia, and pain in the shoulders, arms, and hands, neck pain, and progressive muscle weakness.
Types of Neck Exercises
While a large number of cervical disc herniations heal of their own accord given rest, proper nutrition, and avoidance of harmful activities (such as smoking), there are certain strengthening and stretching neck exercises that can help the healing process. It is important to remember that everyone’s physiology varies to some extent and that it is wise to consult your physician and a physical therapist (if possible) prior to commencing any new exercise regime when you have a pre-existing condition such as a disc herniation. Exercises such as chin-tucks, shoulder-rolls, and resistance rotation, flexion, and extension may benefit some patients with a herniated cervical disc but you should cease any action immediately if it causes acute pain and get your neck checked by a qualified physician. Yoga can also be beneficial with poses like downward facing dog, tree, and bridge good options to improve neck health. Practicing yoga at home without instruction is usually inadvisable however as this increases your risk of further injury through incorrect movement or unsuitable poses being attempted.
Neck exercises, and general exercises (such as marching on a mini-trampoline or bouncing on an exercise ball) are excellent aids to recovery and will usually form part of your therapeutic plan including such things as massage, medications (NSAIDs), or traction. Discuss your options with your physician if you have been diagnosed with a herniated disc and you may be able to prevent the need for surgical treatment. Below are some rehabilitation exercises for herniated discs in the neck and back. It is advisable to discuss any type of exercise with your physician prior to starting a regiment.