Everyday Activities to Avoid with a Herniated Disc

A herniated disc refers to the soft cushion or disc, which rests between each set of the vertebra that makes up the spine. When the cushion of the disc (nucleus pulposus) gets compressed by the bones around it, some of the jelly-like material inside can get pushed out of the tough outer core of the disc (annulus fibrosus). If the cushion or the leaking material presses against a nearby nerve, it can cause weakness, numbness, or pain in different parts of the body. Pain management from a qualified health care professional can decrease or eliminate the pain related to a herniated discs.

Put These 4 Activities on Hold

Herniated discs are also known as slipped or ruptured discs. The pain can range from a mild ache in the lower back to extreme pain running down your leg. With care, most ruptured discs will feel better in a matter of weeks. But several everyday tasks can cause the pain to worsen.

Sitting

Hours of sitting puts additional stress on the spine, especially for individuals who tend to slouch when they sit. Avoid sitting when you can. However, if your job requires spending hours at a desk, minimize the effects by taking frequent breaks to stretch, stand, and move or lie down.

Use these tips when sitting is necessary:

  • Keep your thighs horizontal with the floor—knees should not be higher than your hips, such as on a footrest
  • Sit with a straight spine. Roll your shoulders toward the back of your chair, and imagine your shoulder blades reaching for the floor
  • Set a reminder to take a 5-10 minute break every hour
  • Support the small of your back with a rolled-up towel or small pillow

If possible, consider investing in a sit-stand desk that allows you to take care of your body with fewer disruptions to work.

Vacuuming

It’s not just an excuse to get out of housework! The forward-leaning motion used while pushing a vacuum across the floor can cause further irritation to the involved nerves. If you must vacuum, avoid pushing and pulling the machine with your arms. Instead, walk the vacuum across the floor while you remain in an upright position.

Laundering Clothes

The various tasks involved with doing a load of laundry—bending, reaching, and carrying a heavy basket—can put pressure on your already stressed back. If laundry can’t be avoided, do smaller loads and squat or sit instead of bending over to load and unload machines.

Pet Care

A simple task like filling your dog’s water dish isn’t something you’d normally relate to back pain, but for people suffering from a herniated disc, it can be excruciating. If you must lean over to fill a dish or clean up a pet mess, extend one leg back as you lean. This action helps keep your alignment straight and relieves pressure as you bend forward. If you have a dog that pulls during walks, pay a dog walker to take care of this task until your herniated disc is healed. Even the pull of a small dog can be enough to put additional stress on your spinal joints and avoid picking up a pet until you feel better.  

When is it Time for Pain Management?

If you are taking all the recommended steps to rest and allow time for natural healing, but your herniated disc is still causing pain, it’s time to see a pain management specialist. At Saint Louis Pain Consultants, we start each consultation with a thorough clinical evaluation. Each of our patients’ treatment plans is customized to ensure the best possible pain relief.  

If you are living with chronic pain, seek help from St. Louis Pain Consultants.

We want to help remind you what life without pain feels like.