Physical Activity with Herniated Disc

Patient

Q: If a person has been diagnosed with more that one herniated disc, what type of physical activities and sports should be avoided? My son says that mountain biking, surfing, rappelling etc do not cause problems with his bad discs. Only sometimes he "moves wrong" and it is incapacitating.

Doctor

A:   A herniated disc can be a painful and troubling condition. Not only do you experience extreme pain, but your mobility is minimized. Even once the herniated disc has healed the condition is debilitating, as the fear of a repeat occurrence of the condition settles in.  There are no specific "do's and dont's" for herniated discs but there is some general advise I provide all my patients,
1/ Resume activities slowly and as tolerated.  Slow down if pain occurs and gradually figure out what works for you.  Genrally speaking, a herniated disc should not restrict your ability to enjoy a variety of activities.
2/ Be respectful of your back.  Take extra attention in your daily life to lift objects off the floor with proper technique, avoid excessive lifting of heavy objects, maintain proper posture when using computers and avoid being in the same position for prolonged periods of time (standing, driving, sitting).
3/ Regardless of the exta curricular activities you choose to pursue, make sure to maintain a regular program of core strength muscle exercises. Yoga and Pilates are an example of such exercises.
I hope this helps.

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